Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, April 28, 2014

More On British Press Reform

Lili Levi, University of Miami School of Law, has published Taming the 'Feral Beast': Cautionary Lessons from British Press Reform. Here is the abstract.

As technology undermines the economic model supporting traditional newspapers, power shifts from the watchdog press to those it watches. Worldwide calls for increased press “responsibility” are one result. Pending British press reform provides a troubling example with far-ranging implications for freedom of the press. Under the guise of modest press self-regulation, the U.K. is currently poised to upend 300 years of press freedom via the recently-approved Royal Charter for Self-Regulation of the Press. The Royal Charter was adopted in response to the moral panic engendered by Britain’s tabloid phone-hacking scandal. An example of 20th Century regulation poorly fitted for the 21st Century’s evolving news ecosystem, the Royal Charter regime is little more than licensing by proxy. Half-hearted attempts to insulate it from political pressure fail to negate its predictable chilling effects. Indeed, those effects present a particularly grave threat today, when states obsessed with surveillance and security achieve aggressive information control and censorship through collusion with private parties. A bird’s eye view of British press regulation reveals a trifecta of meta-regulation, direct government censorship, and constraints on information access. The effects of Royal Charter regime, far from being limited to the UK, will be felt around the world.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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