So what sort of person should regulate commercial media? Would your answer include any of these-
*Enthusiastic & highly active member of the Conservative party who in her debut PCC speech makes clear her allegiances to Cameron’s tribe, so press regulation under a tory government, hmm do you suppose it might favour the ruling party while allowing attacks on opponents?
*A Baroness, oh what a democratic meritocracy we have…
*A former Chief Executive of the Advertising Association of who fought to make the media more useful to advertisers (and more hostile to those without a profit motive, y’know, health & welfare of human beings and the planet kinda thing) working with another tory who also worked for News International-
Vigorous campaigns by highly organised pressure groups such as Sustain have questioned the way young people are targeted by advertisers. Then there are Ofcom’s new TV advertising rules on promoting HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar) foods to children. These already apply to under-nines. Next year this will extend to under-16s.
The advertising of toys to children is widely believed to be the next target for campaigners and the rise of the environmental lobby means car ads are coming under scrutiny too.
So the £16bn industry is hitting back, and the AA is leading the charge. In addition to Buscombe, the AA has brought in Jonathan Collett, a veteran of both the Tory party and News International, to fill a newly created comms and strategy adviser role.
Buscombe says: ‘Political correctness makes us a diminished people: we shy away from what needs to be said. There’s a “PC creep” that has come in. We’re frightened of being misunderstood. This means private prejudices could be entrenched – the classic one is immigration.’ A pause. ‘But we’re getting off advertising.’
Ooh, she’ll be oh so effective when the tabloids stir up race hatred with migrant bashing, won’t she? Collett is being brought in by Buscombe to the PCC-
Jonathan Collett takes up his position -Director of Communications- on 23 November, having worked as head of comms at the Advertising Association for two years.Collett was formerly public affairs manager at News International. He has also been press spokesman for Michael Howard, when he was leader of the Conservative Party.
So that’s pretty well much a takeover of the PCC by advertising, Conservatives… & Murdoch? (also makes the theory that Cameron has agreed a shopping list of Murdoch wants to implement when in power in return for support from Murdoch’s media seem not so far fetched) But really, conflict of interest much? She was a partisan for -right wing- business interests and now sits in judgement on the media.
*Wealthy, this ones sort of goes without comment most of the time, in a country with a Royal Family going on about class or money is such bad manners, but status subtly informs its own biases, wealthy people by and large do not empathise with poor, sick or unemployed people. So the press coverage that attacks them will similarly continue to go unchallenged in any official capacity, added to that she has an ideological enmity for marginalised groups, it’s a perfect storm of corporate business as usual.
So the largely ineffectual PCC will be even more ineffectual under Baroness Peta Jane Buscombe, giving us less redress against bad reporting and corporate bias while at the same protecting the Conservative party, probably as it gives Murdoch most of what he wants. In fact she’s so unsuitable there are already calls for her to resign-
A lawyer who gave evidence to the parliamentary committee investigating press behaviour, today called on Baroness Buscombe, the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, to resign. He claimed she had published what were termed “extremely serious” false allegations against him.
Solicitor Mark Lewis earlier this year, in testimony to the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, gave an account of a conversation he had with police, alleging that “thousands” of people were targeted by phone hacking.
Buscombe claimed at the weekend that police had been misquoted in oral evidence to the committee. She said: “Any suggestion that a parliamentary inquiry has been misled is of course an extremely serious matter.”
In a letter to Buscombe and to the chairman of the parliamentary committee, Lewis said today: “You have betrayed any semblance of impartiality and regrettably ought to find yourself in a position where the honourable action would be for you to resign.”
He said the discussion he had with Det Sgt Mark Maberley, from the team investigating the tabloid’s behaviour, had been witnessed by two others, including a barrister who was acting for his client at the time, one of the paper’s victims. Maberley told him there were 6,000 instances of phone hacking, although only one case had been prosecuted, involving the royal reporter Clive Goodman, who subsequently went to jail.
“I am deeply concerned that you have thought it proper to criticise my evidence to the select committee without either having the courtesy or the propriety to put the allegations to me first,” said Lewis. “I regret that your failure to act properly has compromised any veneer of impartiality that you sought to create.”
Lewis added: “My evidence was clear. DS Maberly had told me the 6,000 figure.”
Buscombe said she received a letter from Metropolitan police lawyers, which she did not publish or quote directly. She claimed that it said Maberley, who has not testified either to the PCC or to the parliamentary inquiry, was “wrongly quoted”.
She delivered her allegations while seeking to defend the Press Complaints Commission, which she chairs, at a weekend speech to the Society of Editors. The allegations were held back from a previously circulated text of her speech, and then issued as a public statement at short notice last night.
The PCC has been facing accusations of a whitewash, since it refused to accept new evidence supplied to the parliamentary committee by the Guardian and others, which alleged the News of the World was involved in more instances of phone hacking than merely the Goodman case. In a recent statement, the PCC denied that it had been “materially misled” by accepting previous assurances from the News of the World that Goodman had “acted alone”.
Begins to get a bit more sinister when you factor in she covers up for massive spying by corporations that has yet to be properly investigated (of course surveillance creates its own insurance, when you get the dirt on powerful people they are less likely to have you exposed and banged up). Murdoch, Cameron, Buscombe. The lies about Iraq will seem like the golden days of press truth at this rate.
Update: Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger resigns from PCC code committee I think like the government’s Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs the PCC is now a very lame duck. It’s a good sign, that some are not quite at the point where we give up all semblance of an informed democracy in order to venerate power and demagoguery.