Britain, Ofcom stand up against net censorship

In a stance set to upset all the right people, Ofcom and culture secretary Tessa Jowell have successfully argued against EU proposals that would make the government responsible for overseeing “taste and decency” issues on internet sites.

TV Without Frontiers, the European media regulation directive, had wanted national governments to be responsible for regulating such sites as YouTube and MySpace. Ofcom, backed by the government, argues that this plan was unworkable, and believes that internet users should be left to police themselves. Ofcom will regulate “TV-like” services, but not video clip and social networking sites.

Today’s outcome is testament to the substantial progress we have made in persuading our European partners to take our arguments on board

said creative industries minister, Shaun Woodward.

Bad idea from Mediawatch-UK

The results of the Television Without Frontiers European consultation are in, and John Beyer’s contribution is available to view in .pdf format. Not that it’s worth the download time, apart from a few choice quotes and one barking idea.

The self-appointed defender of “our beautiful language” starts off in typically eloquent form:

We support, in particular, the aspiration and the emphasis placed on the protection of minors and human dignity. These two principles should underpin all other considerations with regard to accessibility to linear and non linear audiovisual services.

He then goes on to suggest that “the country of origin principle is the wrong way round”, and proposes his own “country of reception” principle. This would mean that every country would be required to regulate its broadcast services according to the whim to any other country where the signals could be received.

That seems to us to be the best mechanism in order to ensure respect and the protection of minors and human dignity. This change would also go some way to stopping the abuse and circumvention identified by those conducting the revision.

Not a recipe for broadcasting chaos, then?

On the “right of reply” issue, Mediawatch-UK are largely in agreement:

This is especially true now of some Internet sites where accepted notions of fairness, honesty, integrity and objectivity are absent.

Who can he be talking about?

(Thanks to Paul Taverner)