Wednesday, July 18

Olympics Legal Guidelines

We have just added some guidance for journalists and photographers covering the Olympic Games. View this information at the separate page at the top of this blog Olympics Guidelines

Friday, July 13

Iraq: Cybercrimes Law Violates Free Speech
Badly Written Provisions and Draconian Punishments Violate Due Process and Free Speech. A new draft law on information technology crimes would restrict free speech in violation of international law and poses a severe threat to journalists, whistleblowers, and peaceful activists, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The pending law includes vague provisions that would allow Iraqi authorities to harshly punish expression they decide constitutes a threat to governmental, social, or religious interests. The Council of Representatives, the parliament, should not approve the law without revising it to remove the rights restrictions.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 12/07/12

Wednesday, July 11

Birmingham and Coventry NUJ - July Branch Meeting

Tuesday, 17th July 2012
Red Peppers Restaurant & Bar
117 Wharfside Street
The Mailbox
Birmingham B1 1RF
Meet 18:00 for 18:30 start

1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of June meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes

6) Final Motions to DM

7)  Financial Crisis - update:

8) Any other business

Friday, July 6

Media Oversight: Transfer of Responsibilities

Lord Whitty to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will reconsider their decision to transfer responsibility for media, broadcasting, digital, telecommunications and oversight of Ofcom from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Baroness Garden of Frognal: My Lords, there are currently no plans to do so.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that rather disappointing reply. I think the House and the world understand why, in the BSkyB case, the Prime Minister had to remove responsibility from a Minister who appeared to be prejudiced in one direction and give it to a Minister in a different department who we now know to be prejudiced in another direction. However, that is not my point. At the same time, and with no logic, the Government transferred whole swathes of responsibility not just for BSkyB and broadcasting but for media as a whole-digital, telecommunications and oversight of the key regulator, Ofcom. Why was that done and who has benefited? It is not clear to me that consumers, small businesses hoping to compete, or the public interest have benefitted. Surely competition and consumer protection should be paramount.
Read more: House of Lords / 5 July 2012 : Column 783

Thursday, July 5

Early day motion 327: Media Standards  [NUJ Rocks]
That this House commends the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for its work in improving media standards and championing quality journalism; notes that the NUJ is a core participant at the Leveson Inquiry; believes that this is fitting as the NUJ represents thousands of journalists throughout the press including national and local newspapers; supports the NUJ's campaign for a Conscience Clause for journalists, which will protect them in their workplaces if they are asked to carry out work that would compromise their journalistic ethics; believes that the Press Complaints Commission failed as a regulatory body and should be replaced by a truly independent body which has press freedom and high journalistic standards at its core and which includes representatives of ordinary journalists and the wider public in a co-regulatory approach; further believes that in order to be effective such a body needs to be underpinned by statute with a press ombudsman to mediate with the public; and supports such a body having the power to hear appeals from the ombudsman and administer an ethical code, such as the NUJ code of conduct, as well as the powers of investigation and the ability to decide on punishments including fines and compensation for newspapers which breach the code.

Sponsors: McDonnell, John / Clark, Katy / Mitchell, Austin
Date tabled: 04/07/2012

EDM 326: Local Newspapers as Community Assets
That this House supports local newspapers as a valued part of the community across all parts of the UK; believes they should be designated as community assets under the Localism Act 2012; supports such an extension under the Act as it will allow threatened newspapers to explorealternative ownership models; further believes that local newspapers are able to report on and hold to account local politicians in ways that the national media is not able to do and that local newspapers are essential to local business through advertising; and calls on the Government to convene discussions with local newspaper groups and the National Union of Journalists in order to safeguard this invaluable source of local news across the country.

Sponsors: Mitchell, Austin / Edwards, Jonathan / McDonnell, John
Date tabled: 04/07/2012

EDM 325: Commercialization in the BBC
That this House notes with dismay the email sent to all BBC staff working in the Global News department from Peter Horrocks, the Director of BBC Global News, which asks staff to generate money making ideas for the BBC; further notes that the email states that staff will be required to exploit new commercial opportunities as part of their appraisal process; condemns such an idea as threatening the ethos at the heart of the BBC's public service broadcasting; believes that ordering staff to focus on commercial ideas will distort the Corporation's fundamental news-gathering and reporting objectives; further believes that journalists working for the Global News Service, which includes the BBC World Service, work in some of the most challenging terrain in the world and can only carry out their work as impartial reporters rather than money gatherers; and calls on the BBC to abandon this ill conceived initiative.

Sponsors: Mitchell, Austin / McDonnell, John
Date tabled: 04/07/2012

Tuesday, July 3

Sri Lanka: Halt Harassment of Media
 The Sri Lankan government should immediately end harassment of media outlets and journalists in violation of the right to freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today. In the three years since the end of the armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has expanded its efforts to silence critical views.
Read more: Human rights Watch, 03/07/12

Hungary: Failings on Media Warrant EU Action

ungary’s clampdown on media freedom, through several problematic media laws, has given rise to mounting EU and Council of Europe concern. In February, Kroes urged Hungary to seek advice from the Council of Europe on media reform, which Hungary failed to do. The Council of Europe prepared an analysis nonetheless, highlighting a range of problems that should be addressed for Hungary to comply with European Convention standards. Ignoring the Council of Europe’s advice, the Hungarian government submitted to parliament for vote on May 25, 2012, amendments to its media laws that not only largely failed to address concerns but also introduced additional restrictions on media freedom.
Read more: Human rights Watch, 02/07/12