Media regulation – the mailed fist in velvet glove option

New post by me at CDU Law and Business Online.  An extract:

Moreover, yesterday’s behaviour by Murdoch’s Brisbane Courier-Mail of publishing edited extracts of a Liberal-National “dirt” file on Queensland Labor MPs rather suggests that it is high time for media behaviour to be placed under the microscope of public scrutiny.  The “Fourth Estate” has been defecating in its own nest for too long and is unlikely to receive much sympathy from the general community if government seeks to bring it to account. …

However, [Jonathan] Holmes implicitly assumes that formal government regulation and heavy-handed bureaucratic oversight are the only available alternatives to the current system of self-regulation of the print media by the Press Council, which Holmes himself (and just about everyone else) concedes is “slow and toothless”.   In fact there a range of possible options for achieving more effective oversight of media behaviour without undermining democratic freedoms.

PS I was tempted to use this image in the post at the official CDU site/blog but I resisted. I’m not quite ready for compulsory retirement.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Alan
Alan
10 years ago

When people are advocating freedom of the press they really should also note Article 17 of the ICCPR:

1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.

2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Some rights counterbalance other rights.

The problem with an opt out provision is that the media has sufficient power to ensure that the revert to direct regulation provision is never activated. We would still have a toothless press council whose actions would be condemned as attacks on the freedom of the press. I really do not know the solution, although it seems to me that a right of reply and a privacy tort would be good reforms in themselves. It may also be a good idea to make racial vilification part of the law of defamation, although I note no-one seems to have mentioned that a defamation judgment would probably have been considerably more expensive to both Bolt and his publisher.

Tel
Tel
10 years ago

… nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.

Brilliant idea to use the law as a yardstick to measure itself, fully recursive, no way in or out. Fortunately we just declare such attacks to be lawful and the necessary human rights are completely satisfied.

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

Ken, they didn’t publish any real dirt, except maybe an insinuation that someone was bonking another MP.

Alan
Alan
10 years ago

@Tel

Perhaps you are suggesting it should read:

No one shall be subjected to … lawful attacks on his honour and reputation.