WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Melanie Philips stole my Muslim transsexual baby, forcing me to eat my cat, which gave me cancer

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Alex Andreou in New Statesman on press regulation after Leveson.

There is an unacknowledged tension at the centre of the debate. The free press is already unfree – there, I said it. Ninety per cent of national titles are owned by a very small group of billionaires, the majority of them based abroad. The international Press Freedom Index, compiled largely from the responses of people in or related to the industry, ranked the UK at 29 this year. The top country according to the index is Finland, which has a system of self regulation, fully underpinned by statute, very similar to what is being proposed.

Read the rest: WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Melanie Philips stole my Muslim transsexual baby, forcing me to eat my cat, which gave me cancer.

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Ten things you won’t hear about while the press navel-gazes about Leveson and regulation

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The New Statesman nails it in an article that questions what happens to news when the media starts to obsess about itself. On the day when The BBC obsessed about moving house and the rest of the media obsessed about press regulation, here are the stories we could have been hearing about. News values in action:

1. The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced emergency legislation to “protect the national economy” from a £130m payout to jobseekers deemed to have been unlawfully punished. The so-called “Poundland” ruling would potentially entitle thousands of people to financial rebates after the court of appeal declared that almost all of the government’s “work-for-your-benefit” employment schemes were unlawful. The legislation is will come before the Commons tomorrow as the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill.

2. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the Steubenville high school football players, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old after a party in August last year. It’s become a national story in the US – a CNN reporter was accused of being a “rape apologist”.

Read the rest: Ten things you won’t hear about while the press navel-gazes about Leveson and regulation.

Leveson conflict over statute hides real debate about how regulator would work | Media | The Guardian

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What is really at issue is the contradiction at the heart of the oxymoron that dogged the Leveson inquiry: “independent self-regulation”. The intense political discussions have been less about statute than about the difficulty of constructing a regulatory system that can be genuinely independent of editors without impinging on their freedom to go about their public mission to hold power to account.

I understand that the prime minister, and even editors, might well have been relaxed about accepting the famous “dab of statute”. Of much greater concern, however, are the exact arrangements involved in running a new system.

Essentially, the fear of many editors is that they would lose control of the regulator to people outside the industry. They therefore wish to have a veto on who sits in judgment on their activities and even over the writing of a new ethical code.

via Leveson conflict over statute hides real debate about how regulator would work | Media | The Guardian.

The overwhelming case for plurality | Media | The Guardian

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The Leveson inquiry has, understandably, focused on how to regulate press content, complaints and standards. All important stuff. But part of Lord Justice Leveson’s brief is also to think about plurality – how you stop media power being concentrated in a few hands. It’s a complex subject, as Ofcom’s latest review makes plain. But it is every bit as important as the remodelling of self-regulation, if not more so, and now the judge has barely six weeks left in which to consider the issue.

via The overwhelming case for plurality | Media | The Guardian.

In Tinseltown you’ve got to fake it to make it (The Independent)

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As Kirby Dick’s 2006 documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated revealed, the “anonymous group of parents” in southern California who help decide ratings for the MPAA are intensely suspicious of imagery showing female sexual pleasure. Kimberley Peirce, director of Boys Don’t Cry, commented after her own tussles with the censors that “in a culture where most movies are written men, directed by men, they (films) are mostly the male experience”. Pierce suggested that “if you are a woman who understands female pleasure and understands it from the woman’s perspective, you’re probably going into terrain that is unfamiliar – and unfamiliarity is what breeds these NC-17s”.

via Trending: In sexy Tinseltown you’ve got to fake it to make it – Features – Films – The Independent.

Ownership is the key to the corruption of the media

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Good stuff at the Leveson enquiry, as always, but yesterday especially connected with media plurality and ownership. Seumas Milne writes in the Guardianabout the link between ownership and corruption (see snip and link below)

Image representing Rupert Murdoch as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

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But what do we mean by corruption? It can seem like an abstract concept. Being corrupt essentially means that you lose your moral compass (sense of right and wrong), and cease to do the right thing for the right reasons. Corruption has a direct impact on what philosophers call the good life, by which they don’t mean the 70s TV sitcom but the sense that there is a right way to live, a way in which everybody is free to pursue happiness in their own way, without adversely affecting the happiness of anyone else.

Once corruption creeps in, people cease to be concerned with the public good (happiness for everyone) and focus instead on the interests of a small group of people. I didn’t say “the happiness of” there because it often seems that – for this small group of people – happiness takes a back seat. Corrupted as they are, they’re not really concerned anymore with happiness, but have other priorities. Chiefly these priorities are to do with power – the power to make society run in the way that they want; the power to accumulate profits and drive out the competition.

At issue here is the question of whether Rupert Murdoch (and his son James) used their media power to influence government policy. Murdoch claimed at the Leveson that he “never asked” a politician to do anything. But this is not how power is exercised. If you have to ask, you’re not powerful enough. For the truly powerful, the world just is the way they want it to be. They’re not interested in how it happens. Meanwhile, in the background, people are running around trying to make them happy.

It doesn’t matter whether the support of the Sun newspaper is essential to win an election in this country. What matters is that politicians have always believed that it is. Personally, I think they’re probably right to think so, because newspapers don’t ever have to influence “everyone” – they only have to change the minds of those who habitually change their minds.

Elections are won in this country in specific places by specific groups of voters. If you live in one of these “swing” constituencies, you may have seen the party colours of your MP change over the years. Very few seats ever really switch sides. So it’s in these areas where the voters do switch around that the influence is felt. In other words, the Sun and other newspapers do not have to influence voters all over the country; and they don’t have to influence all voters: just the ones that frequently change their votes. By creating enough “swing” – enough of a momentum for change – these “floating” voters dictate the result of every General Election.

But as the evidence to the inquiry has demonstrated, it’s the corporate ownership of the press and media – and News International‘s dominant share of the market, delivered by Margaret Thatcher and reinforced by Blair – that gave Murdoch his mafia-like grip on politics and shaped the media’s reporting of everything from Iraq to financial deregulation.

Which is why Ed Miliband‘s demand today to set limits to cross-media ownership and the share of the newspaper market controlled by one proprietor (also backed by Major earlier in the day) represents a significant break with two decades of political class deference to the media monopolists. Added to the promotion of different forms of ownership – even more important in the digital era – that would start to widen media freedom and diversity.

via Ownership is the key to the corruption of the media | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Jeremy Hunt: minister for Murdoch | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

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Having, quite inappropriately, spoken to Mr Murdoch on a private line, Mr Hunt could not, apparently, help himself. He promptly wrote a memo to Mr Cameron telling him that Mr Murdoch was “pretty furious” at Mr Cable’s decision to refer the bid to Ofcom. He warned the prime minister the government “could end up in the wrong place” and demanded that they shouldn’t cave in to the “Mark Thompson/Channel 4/Guardian line”. He wanted the government to support Murdoch’s vision – “to repeat what his father did … with Wapping and create the world’s first multimedia operator available from paper to web to TV to iPhone”. He requested a meeting with Cameron, Clegg and Cable. A month later, Mr Cable was removed from overseeing the bid on the grounds he was biased against it. Mr Hunt – whose bias in favour of the bid was evident from this memo – was asked by Mr Cameron to take over.

via Jeremy Hunt: minister for Murdoch | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian.