Saturday, January 24, 2009
Jonathan Ross is back on the air, several months after that controversial radio show episode in which he and colleague Russell Brand made comments about "Fawlty Towers" actor Andrew Sachs's granddaughter and phone calls to Mr. Sachs that cost Mr. Brand his slot as host of the Radio 2 show. Mr. Ross was suspended without pay for three months. Among Mr. Ross's guests was tv talk show host Graham Norton. Some viewers complained to the BBC about Mr. Ross's return.
Unlike the BBC, three other networks will show a charity appeal for funds to alleviate suffering in Gaza. ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 will run the appeal. The BBC cited two reasons not to run the appeal: that aid is now reaching the area and that "while it remains a matter of great, great controversy, which we are having to report on very extensively in our news bulletins, we do not think it's appropriate to give our airtime over in this way." Read more here in a BBC story.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Former New Orleans broadcaster Vincent Marinello, convicted of murdering his wife, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. His attorney has filed an appeal. Mrs. Marinello was shot August 31, 2006 in Lafayette, Louisiana, and taken off life support September 1st.
Here's Acting FCC Chair Michael Copps' statement regarding his appointment.
I am honored to be designated today as Acting Chairman of the FCC.
I thank President Obama for his confidence in me and for this opportunity to serve. I know that I have a truly gifted and terrific team to work with. I pledge every effort I am capable of to help steer the Commission through its current transition to new leadership.
Former Chair of the FCC Kevin Martin is headed for the Aspen Institute. He denies "abusing" his power as head of the agency during his tenure. Here's a link to his letter to Representatives Waxman and Burton. Here's a link to his statement regarding his resignation. Here are links to statements from Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, and McDowell on Chairman Martin's departure from the FCC. Here's a link to Chairman Martin's 2009 Comprehensive Report "Moving Forward."
Google is pushing for reform of the UK copyright regime that would allow flexibility similar to that available through "fair use" measures in the United States, according to Richard Sargeant, Google's UK public policy manager. Such changes, Google higher-ups think would allow for more creative content. Read more here.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
A number of British religious organizations, including Christian Voice, as well as members of the public, filed complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority, that the British Humanist Association's ad campaign "There's Probably No God" which has been running on those perky red London buses for several months violated the ASA's advertising code. But the ASA has dodged the bullet by deciding that such a sentiment is an expression of opinion and therefore falls under the definition of opinion.
The ASA Council concluded that the ad was an expression of the advertiser’s opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation. Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence.
Read more here in a news release from the ASA.
Georgians (country, not state) are arguing over their favorite personalities as staffers of the show Top Ten Best Georgians are including saints in the list, based on a popular vote, and the Georgian Orthodox Church is objecting. A similar vote in Ukraine last year also caused a flap.
It is difficult to formulate meaningful competition policy when there is a fierce debate over the current competitiveness of the media industry. After addressing the importance of the marketplace of ideas in our democracy, our article examines the current state of the media industry, including the response of traditional media to audience declines, the growth of new media, the impact of media consolidation (including its impact on minority and women ownership), and the role of the Internet. In response to recent calls for liberalizing cross-ownership rules to protect traditional media, our article outlines why conventional antitrust policy is difficult to apply in media markets, and how the concerns underlying media mergers differ from other industries. Our article recommends that Congress should take the lead in formulating a national media policy. This new legislation should (1) promote, or at least not diminish, the media's contribution to the marketplace of ideas; (2) have antitrust merger policies complement FCC policy, which together should provide some of the necessary legal framework for a vibrant marketplace of ideas; and (3) understand from a 21st Century perspective, all of the values, including noneconomic values, such as localism and diversity, that are important to preserving a healthy marketplace of ideas.
Download the paper from SSRN here.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, who produced a controversial film in which he criticized Islam, will face trial "for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs," a court has ruled. Mr. Wilders had compared Islamic beliefs to those of Nazism. The court reversed the decision of the public prosecutor's office. Read more here.
Another story of a close call onstage. An actor was accidentally shot during a rehearsal when a prop gun discharged at a Sarasota, Florida community theater.. The director handling the prop didn't realize it was loaded. Police are investigating. And no, the performance wasn't cancelled. Here's more from the Guardian.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The producers of the Broadway show "Speed the Plow" have filed a grievance with Actors' Equity over Jeremy Piven's departure from the production. Mr. Piven gave illness (mercury poisoning) as the cause. William H. Macy replaced him in the role of Bobby Gould.
This paper addresses the future of foreign journalism in China in the wake of the new liberalizing press regulations created for the 2008 Olympics which were made permanent in October, 2008. Despite hope for a more open foreign press in China, the paper argues that the new regulations as applied have largely institutionalized the existing reality.
Part I discusses human rights instruments relevant to freedom of the press in order to determine whether China's current regulations facially comport with international human rights law. Part II of this paper discusses China's historical treatment of foreign journalists and analyzes the substance of the new regulations. Part III looks at how the Chinese government applied the new regulations to foreign reporters at the Olympics. Part IV evaluates the new regulations and engages briefly with the issue that China's press regulations still do not satisfy the demands of Western journalists.
Download the abstract from SSRN here.
Australian teacher and writer Harry Nicolaides received a six year sentence, reduced to three years, for lese-majeste, insulting the King of Thailand and his son, for a passage in a novel he published. Mr. Nicolaides pled guilty, hence the reduced sentence. Read more here in an AP story.
Talk show host Jon Gaunt, who was fired from the show TalkSport late last year for a comment about a London councillor, whom he referred to as a "Nazi" during an interview about health and safety policies, is investigating the possibility of suing the station for wrongful dismissal. Mr. Gaunt apologized for his comment, but the station fired him anyway.
The article deals with the Dawson College Massacre, focusing on the story of Kimveer Gill, a 25-year-old man from Laval, Montreal who wished to murder young students in Dawson College. It is argued that the international community should continue working together to devise rules for monitoring specific Internet sites, as human lives are at stake. Preemptive measures could prevent the translation of murderous thoughts into murderous actions. Designated monitoring mechanisms of certain websites that promote violence and seek legitimacy as well as adherents to the actualization of murderous thoughts and hateful messages have a potential of preventing such unfortunate events. Our intention is to draw the attention of the multifaceted international community (law enforcement, governments, the business sector including Internet Service Providers, websites' administrators and owners as well as civil society groups) to the shared interest and need in developing monitoring schemes for certain websites, in order to prevent hideous crimes.
Download the essay from SSRN here.
Lately, Russian copyright law has attracted keen interest of foreign media and law review authors. The interest is mostly related to the activity of several Russian web sites (such as AllofMP3) selling copyrighted music at low price and without piracy protection.
Russian law in principle allows collective right-management organizations to issue licenses for musical works without having respective right holders' permission. The statutory law does not clearly indicate when exactly this is possible. However, courts do not enforce this provision against unwilling right holders. Foreign right holders covered by the Bern Convention or other international treaties of Russia can get protection if they are ready to sue relevant management organizations and their licensees in Russia. The upcoming intellectual-property-law reform enhance protection of right holders in this particular respect.
Journalist Anastasia Baburova and attorney Stanislav Markelov, a human right lawyer who worked with slain reporter Anna Politkovskaya, were found shot to death yesterday in Moscow. As yet, police have not identified any suspects. Ms. Baburova freelanced for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Read more here in a New York Times article.