By Isobel Roe, produced online by Erin Smith
A board of three media experts has finished a review of the changing news environment in the Australia and are recommending all existing media regulators be replaced with one independent board.
The Convergence Review suggests the Press Council of Australia, which regulates the print media, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates broadcasters, be replaced with one body.
Gone are the days of print or broadcast. The media landscape looks a lot more complicated, with news being reproduced on many different mediums and traditional print organisations branching out into broadcast.
Derek Wilding from the Press Council says: “The same piece of content can turn up in a number of different places across media platforms but be regulated in different ways.
“The convergence review has been looking at the problems that arise as a result of confusion and looking at some solutions and coming up with a regulatory approach that provides more consistency.”
Mr Wilding says he is pushing for an independent body, free of government input.
He think the Press Council is up to the challenge of becoming that new regulator.
“In effect we’ve been doing everything we can to position ourselves as a model for that independent new standards body that might in the future handle complaints and standards that relate to news and comments across all platforms,” he said.
But editor of The Courier-Mail Michael Crutcher has concerns about the Convergence Review.
“I have no problem with say, look let’s stand back and have a look at how things are regulated, just to make sure we’re keeping up with technology – that’s one thing.
“But I don’t really see the end product as being anything really to do with that,” he said.
He says the review is a follow on from the Federal Government’s media inquiry dubbed the ‘Finklestein Report’ and any government involvement in media conduct is a loss for democracy.
“Things that are in the Convergence Review are certainitly more plausible than what came out of the ‘Finklestein Report’ but in the end the Convergence Review, you’re looking at a body which has government appointees, so you can’t get away from the fact that the Government will have a big role to play.”
Mr Crutcher says it is important to ensure any regulatory body formed is not infiltrated by government.
“The Australian media by large is a good media and a media that has so far functioned, especially on the print side, without extra government regulation and I think we need to say government regulation needs to be, in this situation, avoided at all costs,” he said.
The recommendations from the review may take up to five years to be finalised.