Thursday, November 29, 2012

What you need to know about Leveson

  1. Phone hacking is already illegal in the UK.
  2. Attempting to corrupt a public official is illegal.
  3. Stalking was made a crime in the UK a week ago.
  4. Breaking and entering private property in the UK is already illegal.
  5. The UK has one of the world's toughest defamation laws, which are already blamed for suppressing people speaking up about allegations of sexual abuse by public figures.
  6. In short, the vile events presented in evidence were, in most instances, already illegal.
So consider, for a moment, why new laws and a new regulator is needed to enforce that which the Police have been lax to enforce now.
  1. News International is not dominant in the newspaper market in the UK.  It owns the second most popular out of the five serious national Monday-Saturday papers, and the most popular of the five tabloid/populist papers.  Only 34% of national newspapers read in the UK are News Corp papers.  Around 8 million national newspapers are sold every day in the UK.
  2. News International is not dominant in the television market in the UK.    It owns one free to air TV channel (Sky News) compared with the state which owns ten through the BBC and five through Channel 4 (excluding another five "+1" timeshifted channels). It owns the largest pay TV provider (BSkyB in 17% of UK/Irish households), with two major competitors (Virgin Media, BT Vision). The BBC is funded predominantly through a TV licence payable by threat of criminal prosecution.  BSkyB is funded voluntarily through subscription.  BSkyB is forced by the state to onsell its premium sports content to its competitors.  About 9 million people watch the BBC's two nightly TV bulletins every day.  Another 2.2 million watch the BBC News channel daily, while 1.5 million watch Sky News.
  3. News Corporation has no radio stations in the UK.  By contrast, the state owns 11 national radio stations and 48 regional/local radio stations through the BBC.
  4. Any form of legislation to regulate the press will require the licensing of newspapers, which was last abolished in 1644.   By definition, a regulator will be led by people appointed by politicians, by definition it will be a creature of politics.
Look at those asking for a regulator.  What's their motive?  Ask why a publisher should require permission from the state to publish?  Ask if you think the Labour Party would be so keen on regulating the press if the Times and the Sun hadn't decided to stop supporting it after the 2005 election and Gordon ("I've abolished boom and bust") Brown became Prime Minister?  Ask why the BBC, which has been at the forefront of supporting press regulation, isn't regulated by OfCom and itself failed to report on its own former stars committing criminal sexual acts, yet press regulation enthusiasts regard it to be a bastion of ethics?

Can you imagine the resistance by the pro-press regulation left against anyone daring to suggest that the behemoth of a state broadcaster (the world's largest state broadcaster) be independently investigated and broken up because of the dominance of its influence?

Leveson has recommended legislation, to "protect press freedom", although he doesn't identify what threatens it.  Typically the number one to press freedom, is legislation.

He wants OfCom - the regulator of broadcasting (except the BBC, because it wouldn't do to have the BBC regulated by the organisation regulating the private sector), to supervise the newspaper regulator.

What's a newspaper?  Who knows.

This is from a man who has said that newspapers are "uniquely powerful" compared to the internet and social media, which probably reflects he is 63 years old, than any real insights into the media.

The Leveson Report is a doorstop.  Nothing more.  It claims that regulation is needed to protect a free press - freedom is slavery, peace is war, and all that.  It is so absurd that no one should take that seriously.  Hugh Grant will, but then who really wants to turn to him for public policy (he ranted on a state owned TV channel a few days ago about how all policy was written by big corporations who control us through their ownership of the media).

The Labour Party will embrace press regulation now because it suits its interests and its newly embraced "class-warfare" attitude against privately owned media that don't give it the fawning subservience to which it feels entitled.  There is next to no evidence of the Labour Party having the slightest respect for individual freedom anymore.

The "Liberal" Democrats will once again demonstrate that the word "Liberal" in the party name is closer to the American misuse of the word to mean "socialist".  The reaction will be the next pile of dirt poured on the coffin of the once proud Liberal Party.

What matters is what the Conservative Party says and does, which will determine whether "small government conservatism", already dying under minimum priced alcohol, caps on interest rates for payday loans and new laws on internet surveillance, is comatose.

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