Media groups face proposed Brussels crackdown

By James Barnes

22 January 2013 at 11:47 BST

European media outlets could soon be scrutinised by independent agencies empowered to investigate complaints and hand out fines, if recommendations of an EU-appointed panel are accepted.

Brussels: pan-Europe media reglations proposed

Brussels: pan-Europe media reglations proposed

The Financial Times newspaper in London reports that the panel – established by European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes more than a year ago – found it essential to introduce rules curbing abuses of power by individual journalists and media organisations.

Removal of status

In one report, the group – chaired by former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga – decided that ‘all EU countries should have independent media councils with a politically and culturally balanced and socially diverse membership’.
The report adds: ‘Such bodies would have competences to investigate complaints [and] should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.
‘The national media councils should follow a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the commission to ensure that they comply with European values.’
If such councils were created, it would supersede plans by UK media outlets to introduce a press regulator, following the release of Lord Justice Leveson’s report last November.

Internet publishers

Meanwhile, Leveson Inquiry lead counsel Robert Jay QC has mooted a suggestion on regulating comments made on the internet, despite claiming that Lord Justice Leveson himself was ‘wise’ to avoid the issue.
Mr Jay’s proposal includes holding Internet service providers responsible for allowing their customers to read defamatory comments.
Mr Jay told The Times newspaper that ‘increasingly imaginative solutions’ were needed to deal with defamatory content online. ‘One possible way forward is to seek… to bring ISPs within the scope of ‘publishers’ for the purposes of the law of defamation,’ he added.


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