Press Regulation: What Should Happen?

In our Broadcast Law lecture at uni today we were looking at press regulation and the Leveson Inquiry of 2011-12.

We were watching a film produced for Channel 4 by Hugh Grant: “Taking on the Tabloids“, and we looked at the arguments for and against regulating the press, or letting the press regulate themselves.

Looking at the history of press regulation and the PCC, I was interested to learn that there have been 5 previous times since the Second World War when the papers were asked to ‘clean up their act’.

The PCC is the voluntary regulatory body for newspapers and magazines in the UK – but the trouble is it is made up of the editors of the newspapers and magazines themselves. To quote the phrase used my lecturer, this sounds exactly like ‘students marking their own homework’! Would anyone trust a student to mark their own homework?

The argument against regulating the press is that it will damage press freedom – but I find this not a very good argument.

As a radio producer, I am subject to the OfCom Broadcasting Code. A breach of the code by me, or any other radio producer, could lead to the radio station being fined, or maybe even shutdown. Yet, I do not see OfCom as a threat to the freedom of the press.

I see nothing wrong with bringing the printed press in the UK under the control of OfCom if that were ever to be a possibility – and I think it should be seriously considered!

This would not be – as some may claim – state regulation. Quite the opposite: OfCom is completely independent of the government, and whilst it is not perfect, I think it does do the job it is meant to do well.

Perhaps it is because I am a radio producer subject to Ofcom that I am less scared of the thought of press regulation than the newspaper editors?

Your thoughts? E-mail them to editor@blog.fred-hart.co.uk.

Fred Hart

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