For the last 12 months we’ve been warned on an almost daily basis that the sky is about to fall in on media freedoms in Australia, but what does the legislation before parliament this week actually propose?
News Media (Self regulation) Bill 2013
There is one simple purpose to this legislation and it is not to stifle freedom of the press. Instead this bill simply creates the conditions under which the Public Interest Media Advocate (PIMA) can declare that an organisation is a “news media self-regulation body”.
The definition of a self-regulator rests on one condition: the body must have a self-regulation scheme that is binding on members.
The only other function of this bill is to remove a news organisation’s exemption from some provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 if it is not a member of a self-regulatory body recognised by the media advocate.
The effective clause of the Privacy Act is 7B(4) and as it currently stands, a news media organisation is only exempt from some Privacy Act provisions if it adheres to public standards. This new bill changes nothing in that regard.