Mr Javid said: “If we receive a majority at the next election, a Conservative government will scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and deliver a new British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Passed in our Parliament and rooted in our values, it will restore British judges as the ultimate arbiters of British justice. "And today I’m delighted to announce that I have agreed with the Justice Secretary that the British Bill of Rights will include specific protection for journalists and a free press. "The Human Rights Act and the European courts have not done enough to protect journalists who play such a unique role in our society. Our British Bill of Rights will change that.” Mr Javid hailed the freedom of the press as “one of the fundamental liberties on which modern Britain was built”, and said that newspaper journalists were “the right people – the only people – to take the lead on developing and enforcing a new set of press standards”.
In the past, regulation has been limited in its ability to achieve its major goal: avoid future incidents where individuals, the environment, or other public goods suffer because of some sort of action, from a pipeline leak to an airplane crash. That’s because the responsible companies or regulators could only intervene after a catastrophe had happened. Equally important, once a product had left the factory, a manufacturer had no idea how it actually operated in the field — until it broke down or malfunctioned. Because of the IoT’s ability to share data instantly and its ability to report on operating problems in their earliest stages, it is technically possible for companies and regulators to have real-time access to data about a possible violation while it is in progress. In some cases, such as with pipeline leaks or potential crises on off-shore oil rigs, that would make it possible to actually intervene before there’s a violation, in time to take corrective action.
In several countries of Latin America, recently adopted media regulation has given way to an unprecedented discussion on the role of the media driven by civil society concerns and active government intervention. The underpinnings of said intervention have changed the course of the regulatory history of Latin American media and stand diametrically opposed to the slackening of regulations over the media sector that is the trend in developed countries. Additionally, technological convergence of audiovisual media, telecommunications and the internet brings new players into the discussion and impacts the mediating role that used to be a tenet of news companies.
I have heard the arguments about the need to keep reporters from becoming part of the story and being tainted by involvement in public policy formation. But journalism, like government, is not a purist’s redoubt. Consider the issue of government surveillance. Battles over protecting news sources were frontpage news during the dramatic National Security Agency revelations. Journalists are obviously part of that story—in some ways they are the story—advocating for stronger legislative safeguards to protect themselves and their profession when they disclose controversial national security information. Yet national security source protection is one component of a wider range of privacy challenges growing out of an environment where advertisers, content producers, and politicians want to know everything about us. Frankly, most citizens I meet worry as much, or more, about their personal privacy than national security disclosure. It is difficult for me to detect a bright line between these two privacy issues, yet one seems to elicit more journalist advocacy than the other.
By law, the FCC must report to Congress every three years on the barriers that may prevent entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace, and pursue policies to eliminate those barriers. To fulfill that obligation in a meaningful way, the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities consulted with academic researchers in 2012 and selected a contractor to design a study which would inform the FCC’s report to Congress. Last summer, the proposed study was put out for public comment and one pilot to test the study design in a single marketplace – Columbia, S.C. – was planned.
However, in the course of FCC review and public comment, concerns were raised that some of the questions may not have been appropriate. Chairman Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required. Last week, Chairman Wheeler informed lawmakers that that Commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters and would be modifying the draft study. Yesterday, the Chairman directed that those questions be removed entirely.
To be clear, media owners and journalists will no longer be asked to participate in the Columbia, S.C. pilot study. The pilot will not be undertaken until a new study design is final. Any subsequent market studies conducted by the FCC, if determined necessary, will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.
Any suggestion that the FCC intends to regulate the speech of news media or plans to put monitors in America’s newsrooms is false. The FCC looks forward to fulfilling its obligation to Congress to report on barriers to entry into the communications marketplace, and is currently revising its proposed study to achieve that goal.