(This is the 50th blog & what can be more important to mark this than a blog concerning the freedom of the press, the heart of a democratic state.)
“As powerful people and politicians prepare the ground to ignore or twist Lord Justice Leveson’s Report on media abuse, already starting to second guess what he will recommend, lining up to undermine this multi million pound enquiry……..”
“Model of self-regulation for the press, with a complaints and standards board run by senior press executives, has clearly not worked in the past decade, but to lose the freedom of the press through rigorous legislative regulation is just as bad…………”
“Who wants to be like the French and have important information about our Politicians, information that is needed if fair voting for people in power is to occur, hidden due to Privacy Laws; and who wants to be French anyway……….”
A free press must be balanced with more regulation as self-regulation did not work over the last decade. It allowed the press to trample on those who could not defend themselves as only the rich could afford libel cases. How do we make the press accountable, as they have had decades to put their own house in order. The over regulated leads to situations, as in France, where their leaders can use tax payers’ money, through their expenses, to fund their mistresses and secret children and far worse is kept from the voting public.
Where is he middle ground? What about setting up a judge led complaints authority that is empowered to fine newspapers/media outlets hefty sums, and people can go to them to complain and have wrongs righted, inclusive of financial compensation.
All newspapers and magazines have to have a licence where they sign up to a set of standards and conduct and the judge can remove the licence in cases where institutional abuse of power or law breaking (phone tapping for example), is demonstrated. This keeps it independent from both Parliament and from media outlets.
Let’s face reality, with the own goals scored by BBC Newsnight there will be powerful people a plenty wanting to crush all independence of the press – the BBC have single headedly nearly made this happen. But the balance must be maintained, freedom and integrity and truth. Truth, as opposed to willingly publishing lies or stories with no affirming information, with no evidence, should result in punishment in some form. This is where the judge led system comes in handy and, again, where people can claim and be compensated by an independent system – even if they have no money to spend on legal teams. Yes, the mighty can be challenged and brought to heel by the everyday person in the street at a cost of zero. Self-regulation has failed, laws of privacy would crush our press. A judge led complaints system with real powers is the perfect balance.
As for the BBC, well, Newsnight would almost certainly have lost its license to broadcast and fines in the millions to Lord McAlpine. Get a grip BBC!
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