6.1In the pre-digital era, identifying who should adhere to news standards and determining the boundaries of intervention were relatively straightforward matters. However, those issues have now become far more complex as bright line distinctions between media formats and genres, creators, consumers and distributors become increasingly blurred. This has forced reviewers and policy makers to re-examine the fundamental justification for regulatory intervention, whether it be the traditional classification and censorship schemes applied to entertainment, or the imposition of balance and fairness requirements for news media broadcasters.
Is the protection of a public sphere of regulated, responsible, ethical public media a 20th century hangover, or is it something that we want to replicate for the new converged environment?
As debate over the future of press regulation in the UK develops through the Leveson Inquiry and beyond, it is surfacing a host of thorny issues such as the very purpose of regulating the press; whether the basis for press regulation should be voluntary or mandatory or some combination; whether compliance should focus on incentives or sanctions; whether a regulatory body should be primarily concerned with complaint-handling or standards auditing, promotion, and enforcement; how it should weigh rights of freedom to impart and receive information on the one hand and privacy and reputation on the other; who can complain; transparency and accountability; the scope of jurisdiction in relation to cross-platform and cross-national providers.
6.6The conclusions of the overseas reviews demonstrate that there is a spectrum of options available for deployment in the design of a converged standards body. In this chapter we outline some of the available options, to provide background for chapter 7 in which we set out our preferred model. We consider that none of the models we have examined from the overseas reviews are entirely suited to New Zealand’s converging media environment; our preferred model therefore is not a carbon copy of what has been proposed overseas, although it has had the benefit of being informed by the extensive analysis that has been undertaken.
6.7In this chapter we outline the main findings of the various reviews on some of the key issues, such as:
We begin, however, with a review of responses to the threshold question of whether there should be greater regulatory convergence.