Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Who runs the country – the government or the press?

Amazing how a certain section of the UK press believes they are above the law and any form of outside regulation.

Yes, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights enshrines the right to freedom of speech (amazing how the anti-human rights Daily Mail now wants to use the Convention it detests to challenge press regulation).

However, read on. Article 10 also recognises the need to restrict freedom of speech by law in certain cases, including ‘for the protection of the reputation or rights of others [and] for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence’.

Which might explain why Christopher Jefferies successfully sued eight newspapers after being defamed and having his reputation ruined. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/nov/24/christopher-jefferies-leveson-press-inquiry

As for our press code being the envy of the world - you are joking. Firstly, self regulation has never properly enforced the code, secondly where is the proof? Reporters without Borders rank the UK at 29th in their world freedom of the press rankings, whilst Finland takes the top spot for the third year running.,

So perhaps we should be adopting Finland’s Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in the Mass Media rather than our own emasculated version of press regulation. http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2003/en20030460.pdf

Some of our press are threatening not to ‘sign up’ to the new regulator – how dare they? Finnish media are not given that option. A publisher MUST designate a responsible editor who has a duty to supervise editorial work. A responsible editor who is found guilty of editorial misconduct will be sentenced to a fine. No choice there – and yet they have the freest press in the world.

The Finnish Act includes a right to reply and a right to correction for victims of misinformation or repeated bias. The publisher must publish the reply or correction. The Finnish Act guarantees press freedom but also includes statutory correctives to ensure that the press act responsibly. That is sadly missing in our new press regulations.

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