Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

An inquiry into media ethics in Australia – where Rupert Murdoch has a seventy per cent share of the newspaper market – was hailed at a TUC fringe meeting as another milestone in a widening international campaign against the power of News Corporation.

 

Confirmation that the inquiry would go ahead came within hours of the start of a rally in London (13.9.2011) to establish the broadest possible campaign to urge the Leveson Inquiry to recommend new limits and controls on media ownership in the UK.

While groups campaigning against the abuse of media power wait impatiently for the start of the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World, activists should not lose sight of more pressing opportunities to force the Coalition government to act.

Two issues present themselves for instant scrutiny.

·   Should the public interest test be strengthened in case of surprise takeover moves in media ownership?  

·       Declarations made so far about meetings between ministers and media executives make a mockery of David Cameron’s promise to strength the ministerial code of conduct.

  

Declarations made so far about the meetings which have been held between ministers and media proprietors make a mockery of David Cameron’s promise of a new era of openness.   If there is to be accountability and an end to the collusion of previous years, there has to be a meaningful explanation of the nature and outcome of all such discussions. 

Cameron and his cabinet colleagues have honoured their undertaking to list meetings with media executives and editors in the fifteen months since the general election but they have hidden behind euphemisms such as “general discussion” and failed to reveal either the extent or purpose of their deliberations.

Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry has been charged with the task of recommending new measures to govern the “future conduct of relations between politicians and the press.”  The only way to ensure these relationships are properly policed is by enforcing a code of conduct which requires full transparency on the part of both the government and shadow ministers.        

 

 

David Cameron’s promise that Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the phone hacking scandal will have the power to call Prime Ministers past and present to give evidence, could open up a Pandora ’s Box of examples where senior politicians have bowed to the hidden commercial agendas of media proprietors.