The moment of Leveson: Beyond ‘First Amendment fundamentalism’ in news regulatory policies
AbstractAustralian discussion of the Leveson Inquiry has started and finished at asking whether ‘we’ suffer from precisely the same ethical malaise that led to phone-hacking in the United Kingdom. Yet as Leveson has unfolded it has become clear that its report will have international significance as a watershed moment in content regulation in a multi-platform future. A 30-year-old neoliberal orthodoxy has promulgated the view that digital convergence would mean the expansion of newspaper models of self-regulation to all future platforms. Broadcast models of structural and content regulation would disappear along with spectrum scarcity and other ‘old media’ trappings. All that is now at serious risk. Instead, for the UK at least, the public service obligations placed on commercial broadcasters now appear a more evident success story in maintaining journalistic integrity. Convergence might mean instead that public service obligations should be applied to newspaper publishers. However, making sense of all this from Australia is rendered difficult by the failure of our regulatory regimes to set such standards for commercial broadcast journalism at even levels achieved in the US at its broadcast regulatory high watermark. This article thus weighs up recommendations of the Finklestein and Boreham reviews in this context.
Copyright (c) 2012 Paul K. Jones
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