Legal insight for journalists from one of the UK's leading legal trainers

Leveson will find that Australian journalists couldn't give a XXXX for UK's 'suffocating' media controls

 

It was ironic that Lord Justice Leveson cleared off to Australia after publishing his report two weeks ago.

Hopefully, he will  look at Australian's press regulation while he’s there.

He will find it is simpler and far more relaxed than the UK’s.

The Australian regulatory body is the Australian Press Council

It has a General Statement of Principles that has just nine sections compared with the PCC Code’s 16. Each one is just one or two sentences long and far easier for journalists and the public to understand. Key subjects are then explained with clear, practical Specific Standards.

The APC also has a far broader definition of public interest, too: "Public interest is defined as involving a matter capable of affecting the people at large so they might be legitimately interested in, or concerned about, what is going on, or what may happen to them or to others." Enough to get Hacked Off foaming at the mouth, I should think.

This definition makes the PCC’s version sound exactly what it is – suffocating and contrary to free speech.

In fact the APC version is the one that was used over here until the PCC got hold of it. It was defined by Lord Denning many years back and seemed to work OK for us in those days.

Lord Leveson may also find Australian media-related laws are a trip down the legal memory lane.

They are the same as they were in the UK before the media got strangled by European Union directives.

In Australia, they don’t have to place 'report abuse' buttons on reader website posts, as their defamation laws are more relaxed.

And website visitors don’t have to give consent to accepting cookies.

Over the years, I’ve trained many Australian subs who are utterly bewildered by this country's suffocating system of media law and regulation.

Quite rightly, they couldn’t give a XXXX for it.

What they’ll make of the post-Leveson media world is anybody’s guess.

Cleland Thom is a trainer and consultant in media law

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