Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Media Self-Regulation and Media Freedom

Adeline Hulin, European University Research Centre, has published Statutory Media Self-Regulation: Beneficial or Detrimental for Media Freedom? as Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2014/127. Here is the abstract.

In the wake of the British phone hacking scandal of the News of the World, which proved some limits to the model of media self-regulation, a growing number of experts have suggested a statutory recognition of this model by law to improve its performance. At first sight a statutory recognition seems an oxymoron, as the model of media self-regulation – a voluntary system of media regulation independent from public authorities – was originally developed by media professionals themselves to limit state interference in the field of media. Hence, the article explores how statutory recognition is compatible with the concept of media self-regulation. After clarifying the relationships between media regulation, self-regulation and media freedom, the article investigates whether statutory recognition is beneficial or detrimental for media freedom. To answer it, this article draws a distinction between democratic countries and countries in democratic transition. It is argued that statutory media self-regulation in non-democratic countries is problematic because of the risks of transforming self-regulation into a compulsory system controlled by political interests. In democratic countries, statutory media self-regulation can make this voluntary system more effective, for instance by limiting the number of media outlets that decide to abstain from it. However, when statutory recognition is used by state authorities not as a reward but as a punishment for media, it leans towards a two-speed protection of media professionals according to their respect for professional standards or a lack thereof, which is not compatible with the universal nature of freedom of expression.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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