How Media Regulation is Just a Clamp Down on Freedom of Speech

‘What happened to you guys? You used to be so radical, so contrarian. Sometimes you were even funny. Now you’re just boring. All you ever talk about is bond yields and iron ore prices. All the edge is gone.’

Your editor likes to meet with his critics, especially when they’re buying the beer. But last night, the free beer was barely enough compensation for the flack we copped. Our long-time reader and friend is beyond disappointed. He’s bored!

‘Seriously. I used to read you guys because you made me laugh. And you made me think. Now you just make me want to jump off a bridge…or get stuck in traffic. You need to raise your game or I’m going to start reading The Age again. I’m serious.’

Duly noted. In the spirit of provocation and mischief, we encourage you to read a recent article by Mr Steve Gibbons, the Federal Member from Bendigo. Please avoid being in the immediate area of any hard vertical surfaces like walls, though. You’ll want to smash your head in frustration.

If you can’t be bothered reading Mr Gibbons’ article about media regulation, we’ll excerpt the key point for you. This looks suspiciously like a trial balloon by a government that wants to silence media critics by creating a new regulatory body. Here is the relevant non-sense:

‘As a society, we seem to have no difficulty legislating for socially acceptable standards and behaviour in most walks of life. In particular, our legislators, regulators and the legal system have no difficulty defining and regulating misleading advertising and I fail to see why it should not be possible to do the same for misleading news reporting…

‘I think penalties of a commercially significant nature do lead to improved behaviour and in recent days we have seen Apple fined $2¼ million for misleading consumers about its iPad and internet service provider TPG fined $2 million over its misleading advertisements.

‘Fines such as these, or temporary suspensions of the right to publish or broadcast, for false or misleading news reporting would lead to a major change in the accuracy and fairness of news reporting.’

You read that correctly. A politician is pushing for the power to punish and fine the media for what a group of regulators considers ‘misleading’ media coverage. To be fair, if anyone knows about how to mislead people, it’s probably a professional politician. As a general class, they make their living tell ‘untruths’.

But really, as hard as we try to see the lighter side of this, there’s nothing funny in the persistent effort by the political class to shackle speech it finds inconvenient. Current libel and defamation laws are quite sufficient to police unethical or illegal media behaviour. New media regulation is just a power grab in disguise by people who want to force everyone to think the same way.

And one last point on this. Look around the Internet and you’ll find plenty of diversity. There are many ‘voices’ out there giving their take on the news and what it means. Digital media is more democratic than ever before. That fact is probably what scares the political class. More people than ever are thinking for themselves and finding alternative sources of information outside the so-called mainstream.

Beware the people who call for consensus! In a free society, you’re free to say and think whatever you want, even if it offends someone else. People who want us all to ‘come together’ and reach a ‘consensus’ on big issues really just want everyone to share the same opinion. Tough luck you thin-skinned control freaks. Get over yourselves.


Dan Denning
for Markets and Money

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Dan Denning
Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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5 Comments on "How Media Regulation is Just a Clamp Down on Freedom of Speech"

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truth and integrity
Great article of truth Dan Politicians and people in too highly paid positions pretend to know values like truth, integrity, freedom and democracy but have definitely lost their way. They have forgotten democracy is the rule of the people not their personal benefactors of greatest benevolent wealth who gauge money and power like vampires and tyrants to suppress people because of their own insecurity. Do not know freedom because they are unable to serve but would rather be served preferably with great wealth and kudos. Can not understand or know truth because they do not practice it. Have no integrity… Read more »

I agree with you truth and integrity, problem is, most Politicians think they know best how we should live our lives and try to control us. When we speak of ‘truth’ its a case ‘whose’ truth, as we all have a different slant. Put two economists in a room to sort out a problem, and you will get three solutions, or more, (why didn’t they see the brown stuff heading our way). They, pollies and economists should have asked me, I knew the truth.

I bring this up in rebuttal to your comments so far regarding the Steve Gibbons MP interview and your slight of hand comments on it. I have recently received Dial M for Murdoch by Tom Watson MP and Martin Hickman. It naturally mentions in detail the Levenson and British Parliament inquiries This important book, Dial M for Murdoch, reveals, without Parliamentary Privilege, a record of the “dark arts” practiced by Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited newspapers. I thought the matters seen and heard on the televised bits of the Levinson enquiry so far, almost beyond belief – stuff for an imaginative… Read more »
Paul Rackemann
Friends, Of course, it is true that Rupert Murdoch’s people were shamelessly unethical, but anyone who knows anything about Murdoch’s career should not be surprised by that. You can’t cure that by allowing an even more shameless and worthless group of people – the government – to dictate what may or may not be said, and, effectively, thought. We have already gone a long way towards censorship thanks to feminism and the villification laws. This is just another step along the road of corruption. I congratulate Dan Denning for putting his attitude on record. It may not do any good… Read more »
Dan – I am surprised that you take such a strong line on this. The value of your writing is that you push an alternative line from the mainstream and either back it by facts and logic or are reasonably clear what is opinion and/or ideology. I firmly believe that the way we conduct debates in the western world is going to be the end of our societies if we are not careful. Having worked (in IT – not journalism) for a major media organization I can tell you that the only thing on the medias mind is ratings. The… Read more »
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