Ofcom could oversee press. Getty Images
Lord Justice Leveson’s report on the ethics and culture of the UK press is generally sober and carefully considered, but it confuses matters by proposing giving a big role in press oversight to Ofcom, the UK telecoms and broadcast regulator.
“I am firmly of the view that the goal here is voluntary independent self-regulation,” writes the judge. His core proposal is for a new press oversight body established by the industry, with powers of arbitration in disputes.
In many ways, this fits with my column setting out a way in which a new arrangement with statutory underpinning could enhance the freedom of the press, while cracking down on Fleet Street’s abuses.
But he allocates an important oversight role to Ofcom; an independent regulator whose chairman is appointed by the government and that is ultimately accountable to parliament. That strikes me as badly misguided. Read more
A British chief executive I met this week was fretting about the UK government’s attempts to kick-start the economy with infrastructure projects. He didn’t fault the plan, but he worried about the execution, likening ministers to Biblical prophets. The only problem, he said, is that “the word of God” is not enough to make roads, bridges, power stations and broadband networks miraculously materialise. Read more
I’m getting fed up with the UK coalition government’s ritual invocation of Victorian values or visions whenever it wishes to urge a put-upon populace to new heights.
In David Cameron’s latest speech, the prime minister calls on the spirits of Brunel, Telford and Stephenson, to inspire new infrastructure investment in the UK, from nuclear energy to new towns. He accompanies nostalgia for the Victorian era with the inevitable negative comparison with other nations’ superior efforts: the French, Dutch and Swiss have cheaper, less crowded railways than the British; the South Koreans have faster broadband; the Indians have newer nuclear power stations; and the Chinese have bigger airports. Read more