Lord Justice Brian Leveson leave media to learn its role

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Rupert Murdoch
London, Nov 30: There were individual failures and aggressive ambitions but the British committee of Lord Justice Brian Leveson wants to push the entire media industry into the tone age of regulations and intimidation.

Here is what provoked the inquiry:

• Rupert Murdoch exercised power over politicians without having to ask for favours directly.

• Police made poor decisions in not pursuing phone-hacking.

What comes out of a year-long inquiry, nearly nine months of testimony and hundreds of witnesses, Lord Leveson's 1,987 pages report are need for statutory press regulation that he insists isn't statutory regulation and a guardian board.

In a commercially capitalist media world, Leveson wants to bring in controls that are at best bureaucratic. His "voluntary independent self-regulation" system to police the press is by a board whose majority is "independent of the press." To ensure this, board would be appointed by another board, which "should include at least one person with a current understanding and experience of the press," but "should include no more than one current editor" of a covered publication. Who will give birth to this super board and how it can remain independent with an editor on board? These questions have no Leveson answers.

This new regulator of non-journalists and non-editors would set and enforce standards of press behaviour. This could either be dictating how newspapers should make apology and redress when they are found to have violated those standards or the power to levy fines up to £1 million, or 1% of a paper's revenue, whichever is fewer.

Newspapers are supposed to submit to the jurisdiction voluntarily. But in case they don't, Leveson proposes a new law that would create a presumption of recklessness or negligence by any paper that did not sign up to his voluntary system of self-regulation by the independent board.

There were some well known and disturbing notes on the media and politicians.

Justice Leveson found that politicians had spent too much time cultivating relationships with the press and had failed to be transparent and accountable to the public over it. While he did not suggest any "deals" contrary to the public interest had been made, he said, "potential threats and promises hang in the air."

He also found that two generations of failure to deal with press misconduct was due to "the press and the politicians [having] formed too close a relationship".

Leveson also recommended legal protection for freedom of the press; increased damages for people who win media cases over wrongs such as libel or invasion of privacy; a system to protect media plurality; and rules to encourage politicians to reveal meetings with editors and publishers.

Prime Minister David Cameron rejected the report's central recommendation for legislation to set up an independent body to regulate the press. He warned this would result in undue limits on freedom of speech.

But he also said the status quo was unacceptable and that the British press would have a limited amount of time to set up an appropriate watchdog.

OneIndia News

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