Scotland may get media watchdog

A move to establish an independent media watchdog in Scotland could be introduced during the first term of the new Scottish Parliament.

In a move that could have major implications for the freedom and accountability of the press, the campaign to establish a commissioner looks likely to receive cross-party support when Parliament reconvenes.

A blueprint drawn up by the NUJ proposes that the commissioner, and a newly formed Scottish Media Commission, should have the powers to investigate ownership issues in an attempt to prevent media monopolies.

It would also provide a statutory framework for upholding press standards; guarantee a right of reply to factual inaccuracies; and ensure legal aid is available for libel cases.

The proposals are supported by the Scottish Trade Union Congress. Cathy Peattie, Labour MSP, is among leading politicians who support the proposals.

Paul Holleran, Scottish organiser for the NUJ, said he saw the role of a commissioner as “complementary” to that of the Competition Commission, run by the DTI, or the new broadcast regulator, Ofcom.

By Hamish Mackay

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