Sunday, July 15, 2012

Australia:  Should TV broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings be  fair and accurate?

A rather unfunny Leftist satirist argues below that he should NOT have to be fair and accurate

In Australia the regulations for parliamentary broadcasts state: broadcasts may only be used for the purposes of fair and accurate reports of proceedings, and must not be used for satire or ridicule.

The reason for this law is not entirely clear. The provisions were included in the very first trial of parliamentary broadcasting for television in 1991. At the end of the trial period, the Parliament held a review of the rules. Paul Bongiorno, from Channel 10, questioned the rule, noting: "There are such things in newspapers as cartoons which daily hold up to ridicule our leaders, our politicians and our church leaders at times. They make them look very silly and we all laugh at them. On television, if you are going to do, for example, a political satire or cartoon, naturally enough you are going to hold up the politicians or our leaders to some sort of ridicule."

The response of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Televising was far from comprehensive: "The committee views the medium of television as being a much more powerful medium than any other and therefore discounts any suggestion that televising of proceedings should be as unrestricted as publishing in newspapers and magazines."

The argument is intriguing - we don't mind being ridiculed as long as it isn't by a powerful medium. The most common justification for the rule given to me has been "to protect the dignity of the house". If you have watched question time recently, where cat calls and guffawing pass the time before the daily call for the suspension of standing orders, such dignity may have evaded you.

Is this law actually a restriction on freedom of speech? True free speech does not restrict the tone or type of speech. It does not say, you may discuss your government, but only in polite tones. It does not say, you may criticise your politicians, but only in a well-researched op-ed piece.

As the US Supreme Court has accepted, the criticism of public figures "inevitably, will not always be reasoned or moderate"; public figures will be subject to "vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks".

Much more HERE


Bird of Paradise said...

Our own news media are liars and fabricators their news media is apperently no different

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with that crazy SOB, BoP.

stinky said...

100% agree with the gentleman on this issue. Of course one may satirize and ridicule a politician; Lord knows many of them deserve it.

As for being "fair" in one's characterization - short of obvious slander and libel - well, who decides what is "fair?" Do we really want a "Fairness Commission" passing judgment? (Warning, that question is meant to satirize the very idea and as such may or may not be legal in Australia).

Lastly, "only on TV?" In other words, you may engage in free speech provided no one can hear you? (Warning, ibid). Oh, sigh, why do we put up with such drivelers?

Anonymous said...

Well, let's just remember what we are talking about.
Parliament broadcasts its own proceedings and sets rules on how those broadcasts may be used.
I don't think this is substantially different to any other copyright holder...
I guess perhaps the better issue is, should parliament be entitled to intangible rights that enable it to control use of images when it is all paid for by us anyway???