The Law Commission has published its final report as part of their review of regulatory gaps and new media.
I’ve read the report and can’t find a lot to disagree with. They have resisted the big brother approach that the UK and Australia seem to be implementing. Media should be by and large kept free from interference of politicians.
The main key recommendation actually removes some statutory bodies and they should be commended for that.
David Farrar has a useful summary of the their recommendations:
- A news media standards body (the News Media Standards Authority or NMSA) should be established to enforce standards across all publishers of news.
- Membership should be entirely voluntary and available to any person or entity that regularly publishes or generates news, information or current opinion.
- To gain the full legal rights of news media (which are extensive), an entity or person must be accountable to a published code of ethics and the NMSA.
- The NMSA should be chaired by a retired Judge who is appointed by the Chief Ombudsman and the majority of complaints panel members should be representatives of the public who are not from the media industry.
- The NMSA will have a code of practice and may also have sub-codes for different mediums (I think is is important as I think online media should focus more on correction, which is less of a remedy in broadcast or print media).
- NMSA powers will include publishing of their decisions, website take downs, corrections, right of replies, apologies, censure and ultimately termination of membership. However no power to fine.
- A three person appeals body is also recommended.
- No state funding of the NMSA for its regulatory function – will be entirely industry funded.
- A working party of seven people to establish the NMSA, with the Chief Ombudsman appointing the Chairperson and the Chairperson the other six members – with industry representatives in the minority.
- NZ on Air funding of news and current affairs will only be open to media that are members of NMSA.
- BSA would have its role reduced to good taste and decency and protection of children standards only.
Judith Collins has announced that she will deal with this in due course after consultation with news media. That is government speak for “there isn’t a pressing need for immediate reform, we will slot it in as time and space permits.”
By and large I agree with the findings of the Commission and can’t see too many problems implementing this in due course.