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
Politicians continue to demonstrate a fierce desire to be seen to be doing something – anything! – about excessive executive pay and corporate tax avoidance. Nick Clegg, UK deputy prime minister, used a BBC radio interview on Thursday to step up the verbal assault on such practices. He said:
Look at this debate about irresponsible capitalism, what I call crony capitalism. It’s Liberal Democrats [Clegg's party] who’ve led the debate on clamping down on bankers’ bonuses and we must be just as tough this year in the bonus season that’s coming up as we were last year, if not more so.
It’s for him and his colleagues to prove that these threats can be turned into effective action, but in the meantime I’m struck by his terminology. What Mr Clegg calls “crony capitalism” is not what most of us call crony capitalism. I have always assumed the term applies quite specifically to unsavoury, over-cosy relationships between businesspeople and politicians. Read more
Some have attributed Nick Clegg’s proposal to give every British voter a share in the UK’s state-owned banks (floated during a trade visit to Rio de Janeiro) to a combination of jet lag, domestic political calculation and Copacabana sunstroke. But the UK deputy prime minister’s suggestion has a long pedigree – longer than perhaps even he recognises. Read more