Media doesn't need another regulator - lawyer

A media law specialist says New Zealand's media industry will probably resist any attempts to establish more regulations around so-called new media.

Chapman Tripp's Justin Graham suggests the powers of the press council will likely be extended instead.

The legal research foundation is to discuss a Law Commission suggestion there may need to be a body governing self-styled citizen journalists, bloggers, tweeters and social media posters, among other internet-related media.

In its New Media Issues paper published in December, the commission said there is a gap concerning what media regulators have jurisdiction over.

It gives the example of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, whose powers extend to content streamed live on the internet but not to programmes stored on the broadcaster's website for on-demand viewing.

Mr Graham says there are also issues around non-traditional media such as bloggers.

The mainstream media have taken it on themselves to police their own websites in terms of comments and blogging, but there is a problem regulating those outside the mainstream system.

"One simple way is having automatic enrollment to the Press Council rather than it being an opt-in system. That would be the least interventionist approach," he told NBR ONLINE.

However, Mr Graham does not believe the need for another regulator has been proven.

He predicts the proposal for more regulations will not amount to much.

"I can't imagine the media is going to be particularly interested itself in the Law Commission's suggestion of having a kind of 'super regulator' for all media," he says.

"The proposal is going to be very difficult to fund and establish, and might go a little bit too far."

Mr Graham expects the jurisdiction of the Press Council or the BSA will be extended instead.

"It's more likely to be the Press Council because that encourages self-regulation," he says. 

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