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Saturday 9 March 2013

Leveson Is Served (42)


Considering how little he is now involved in the process, Lord Justice Leveson is managing to attract an awful lot of blame for what is perceived to be going wrong in the world of print media right now. Much of this surrounds the Defamation Bill, which had amendments added during its last passage through the Lords. These have been laid at Leveson’s door. Because they talk of press regulation.

But, as a number of journalism watchers have pointed out in a letter to the deeply subversive Guardian today, Young Dave does not have to see that Bill lost. It is convenient to him, and most Tories, to frame it that way, an approach that will gain widespread coverage from that part of the Fourth Estate that would rather see no change from where we are now.

Why Cameron will not bring forward a bill that builds on the Leveson proposals is quite straightforward: he’s been given the hard word by those same press interests. There has been a one-on-one with the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, which brings to mind Peter Wilby’s words: like being “stuck in the back of a taxi with a particularly boring and opinionated driver”.

Other editors have also been invited to 10 Downing Street, but, as Private Eye noted in its latest issue, this did not include those from the Guardian or the Independent. But it did result in favourable press coverage in the Times and Mail, although Cameron ought to know that such benefits tend to be fleeting: look what happened after the initial euphoria following his Brussels veto.

Anything Young Dave gets from sucking up to Dacre will be wiped out after the next round of local elections, which means he’s got less than two months to bask in what little glory he gets. In the meantime, a “foundation group” is being formed to start the process of creating a body to replace the discredited PCC with something supposedly independent of the press.

Sadly, with faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh on board, as well as former Murdoch editor Simon Jenkins, anybody with brain engaged knows just how independent this body will be. This is set to be yet another stitch-up with two right-wing hacks making sure the “New PCC” is as far as possible the same as the old one. It will be another Murdoch and Dacre doormat.

What we are set to get is no more than the Hunt and Black proposals, which Leveson concluded did “not come close” to a properly independent regulator. It would mean that once again the system would “run for the benefit of the press, not of the public”. Nothing would change, and that is not good enough.

1 comment:

keith said...

One aspect of this that needs to be brought in to the open is that the new body will, through the royal charter, be subject to the government of the day.

So it is even more ill-liberal than the proposals in Leveson. And yet Jenkins, who wrote in the Guardian that Leveson and his supporters had seemingly "adopted Sharia law", is implementing something far worse while gobbling up his expenses like the loyal establishment lap dog he is.

The real point of agreement behind the press barons and the government is the expunging from the proposals any notion of public redress or access to the media. Public access would improve freedom of speech because it would open up the papers to debate and challenge.

As long as the public is out of the way the proprietors and editors are happy to sell their freedoms to the Tories.

Where are the establishment windbags such as Nelson, Lawson, the Telegraph editors, even the loyal staffers at Press Gazette? Any murmur of opposition. Er no.

The press barons and Tories have reduced the freedom of the press and freedom of speech to the narrow concern of the commercial freedom to make money (K Marx).