Friday, May 14, 2010

More On The Media Council

Vexed has posted a copy of the proposed Media Council bill on his website here and looking through it there are a number of interesting things that caught my eye.

Section 2 lays out the purpose of the act and subsection (a) specifies that it should be an "independent" entity and yet the government will effectively appoint half of the members. That gives a party with a vested interest in keeping the media subdued (what government wouldn't want the media not to report embarrassing things?) a lot of power to control it. Granted it seems that it's not as unbalanced as I previously indicated it may have been since Chairman appointed by the Governor exercises both a normal vote and an extra casting vote in the case of a tie. This balances it up although I must still question why the choice was made to give the council a bias towards the government when international practice often allows the media to police themselves with much success. There must always be a certain level of inherent distrust of the government in a democracy, with the media supposed to be the counterbalancing force. While the council has great potential to do good I'd rather have 6 elected by the media and 5 appointed by the government and since the balance would remain the same (the governor's appointee still with the casting vote) I would hope that the government would be receptive to the worries of cynics such as myself and make this slight change so that if Dr. Brown truly does wish to do good with this council it is not hidden behind the suspicion and distrust that his actions so often evoke from many within the community (and rightly so).

The act also seems to give a lot of power to the Minister to decide who the Council has jurisdiction over and who it doesn't. I'd rather see specific definitions that all media outlets could be tested against than this power be given to a politician who could potentially have vested interests in deciding one way or the other.

Finally it is interesting that the Media Council is to be funded purely by the media. It just seems a bit wrong to me, I doubt the profit margins are high (especially considering that a newspaper was forced to close due to costs recently) and if the Government wishes to regulate the media it is only fair that the Government pays for it. If however the council is adapted to consist purely of members of the media then the case could certainly be made for them paying for it but, in its current form it is wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment