Saturday, March 3, 2012

Report of the Independent Media Inquiry

The Department of Communication and Broadband have released the Report of the "Independent" Media Inquiry by Former Justice of the Federal Court of Australia, Mr Ray Finkelstein QC, with the assistance of Dr Matthew Ricketson, Professor of Journalism at Canberra University. It seems the government seeks to increase its role in regulating media in Australia. The report is available HERE.

The report recommends, a News Media Council, be established to replace existing bodies with jurisdiction over print, online, radio and television news.

The report completely white washes ABC's news performance. No mention in there of the biased climate change coverage its former Chairman labelled Groupthink, or it's predilection to make factual errors in reports, or its bias in selecting news items and experts that agree with its activist reporters.

Since ABC removed its Complaints Review Executive and Independent Complaints Review Panel (ICRP), complaints about ABC's online activities are no longer subject to any "independent" review. That the proposed NMC will cover ABC's online content is a positive step that will help provide important and hopefully independent checks and balances on ABC's online news reporting. However this could simply be achieved by expanding ACMA's  current jurisdiction. As for overseeing the activities of news blogs with more than 15,000 hits per year, good luck with that one.

Reporters without borders currently list Australia at 30 on its Press Freedom Index behind Namibia (20), Mali (25) and Niger (29). The government's desire for increased regulation of independent news providers and the  lack of independent oversight of its own news arm, the ABC, will do little to improve the situation.

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