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Friday 16 October 2015

Press Barons Victimhood Fail

It’s now almost three years since Lord Justice Leveson delivered his report and his recommendations, and in commemoration, the larger part of the Fourth Estate that would rather be allowed to screw over the public as they have done for decades has belatedly realised that they might be in trouble come next month. That is because provisions in a recent Crime and Courts act come into force then.
So the Free Speech Network, that bastion of defending the right of the press to tell the little people, who don’t have the money to sue them, to take their complaints and shove them, and which is paid for by the press to defend its interests, has told “News publishers this morning backed a fightback against ‘Leveson’s toxic legacy’ and legislation that will next month give the UK ‘probably the harshest press regime anywhere in the free world”.

Note the Carlsberg-style “probably”. So what’s the problem? “From 3 November, under the Crime and Courts Act, judges will have the power to impose exemplary damages on publishers who are not members of a Royal Charter-backed press regulator. A second part of the Crime and Courts Act is set to come into force once a press regulator has official approval from the state-funded and Royal Charter-backed Press Recognition Panel”.

But why, given the Act’s provisions have been known about for years, is the press getting itself in a froth now? Ah well. “This could happen before the end of the year, with prospective regulator Impress expected to apply for recognition imminently, and it will mean publishers which are not part of this regulator could pay both sides' costs in libel and privacy cases”. Yes, press people, but you are not giving us the full story.

If someone complains to the press about their coverage, and says - not unreasonably - that they would like to settle the matter via a low-cost arbitration service, only to be told by the press that they won’t play, and the complainant can sue them if they think they’re hard enough (bit like the situation now), they force that person to risk losing a six-figure sum pursuing the case. Hence paying both sides’ costs.

If the press behaves reasonably, and uses the arbitration service, all is well and if the complainant then goes to law, it’s the same situation as now. So what the press is really saying is that it wants to be as downright bloody unreasonable as possible - and that if it is not allowed so to be, it will play the victim and tell anyone daft enough to believe them that the UK has become like Zimbabwe, or even North Korea.

So when the press and its useful idiots tell you about “Leveson’s toxic legacy”, what they really mean is something intended to give ordinary people redress for bad press behaviour, and restore public confidence in that press. That the larger part of the press doesn’t want that to happen tells you all you need to know about where they’re coming from. They couldn’t give a crap about the victims of their bad behaviour.

The free and fearless UK press, folks: prepared to spend serious money, and deploy any old propaganda, so it can carry on pissing on the public. Don’t believe the spin.


Anonymous said...

Actually, all the position of media owners' depends on is the same kind of reductio ad absurdum the Confederate States tried on in the American Civil War.

Then, the argument was allegedly for "freedom of states rights." Which ACTUALLY amounted to the "freedom" to impose slavery on unwilling human beings. Which in the end was why there was such opposition to Dixie. And a tragic and unnecessary war which that unhappy nation has still not recovered from. All it required was adult discussion to be rid of a vile trade.

In the Leveson case, media monopoly owners (and their paid gutless hacks) want the "freedom" to impose their information slavery on an increasingly unwilling public. Moreover, to do it in any way they see fit, including corruption.

But the beauty of new technology is that those owners are more and more exposed to spontaneity from independent individuals, instead of the narrowly structured access they have manufactured since the introduction of mass printing and audio/video communications.

The game is up for the present system. It may take many years yet to readjust to a better information democracy, and along the way you can expect the usual frothed mouth assaults from the usual far right sources. But at least a start has been made.

In the meantime you can expect the Murdochs and Northcliffes of this world to pay their front men and women to do the usual dirty work. Yet the REAL question remains: WHO IS BEHIND THE MURDOCHS AND NORTHCLIFFES? Which of course the hacks will NEVER ask, let alone try to solve.

Britain remains the world centre of this kind of disgusting corruption and immorality. It may not be alone in its rottenness but there's nobody worse out front.

James Nicholls said...

Genuine question, Mr Fenton: Where do you draw your conclusion that if the newspaper agrees to arbitration it shields them from paying defendants costs if they win? And how does that apply to papers (such as Private Eye) who are not part of a regulator?

Tim Fenton said...

Genuine answer, Mr Nicholls: as I posted, if a newspaper prevails at arbitration, then the complainant risks paying all the costs if they decide to then go to law anyway.

Joining a recognised regulator also carries benefits as regards protection from vexatious litigants, as the likes of Robert Maxwell were in the past.

All of the minutiae has been discussed at Inforrm's blog.

Anonymous said...

Insertion to post 1: "arguments" after "owners" in first sentence.

Apologies for typo.