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New Laws/Regs

UK to Promote Media Self-regulation
Jan 21, 2003

Lord Currie, the chairman of the new United Kingdom communications super-regulator, called on "co-regulation" of the media in this country.

The new Communications Bill being submitted to parliament promotes that broadcasters and others in the communications world should police themselves. They call this self-regulation. Getting the communications industry to draw up its own codes of practice, enforce them and handle complaints from consumers if the codes are broken is seen as more flexible than old-style statutory regulation.

The bill builds on current practices where some of the controls on TV and radio advertising are already exercised by the industry itself. The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) vets the scripts for TV and radio commercials in advance, and tells advertisers if they breach the codes drawn up by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the Radio Authority (RA).

But some argue that for example the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), set up after complaints about newspapers invading people's privacy, has not been especially successful either in preventing stories about people's private lives in the papers or in keeping the law at arm's length. The PCC's modest achievements may be down to the fact that, as a voluntary body paid for by the organisations it polices, it cannot criticize or truly police the industry

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