New body may regulate media issues
Complaints against the press and online news media could be taken to a new tribunal with tough legal powers, under a proposal flagged by the Government's media inquiry.
Former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein and journalism academic Matthew Ricketson have been commissioned to review media regulation, with a report due by the end of February.
A seven-page paper, issued yesterday by the inquiry, flagged the possibility of a statutory body to replace the current industry-funded complaints body, the Australian Press Council.
The paper asks for feedback on whether a new tribunal should have the legal power to request information from the media to resolve a complaint, require a publisher to issue a correction or apology and impose sanctions for failing to act.
The inquiry has also sought comment on whether new regulations should be put in place to ban the publication of deliberately inaccurate statements.
It is also looking at a requirement for publishers to clearly distinguish between fact and comment and to prevent ''unreasonable intrusion into an individual's private life''.
Print and online media could also face regulation which would ban the gathering of information by ''unfair means'' and require the public disclosure of payment or offers of payment for stories.
The issues paper also raises the question of whether media proprietors should have to conform to standards or codes of practice and whether the current journalist code of ethics is adequate.
A related concern being investigated is whether there are barriers to entering the media which are reducing diversity of opinion.