Australian Press Council ‘disappointed’ at MEAA’s decision to withdraw

The Australia Press Council (APC) has expressed disappointment in the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s (MEAA) announcement that it intends to leave the industry body.

Australia’s union for journalists announced this week that, in the wake of feedback and consultation from members of its Media section, it will give the required four years’ notice to withdraw from the APC.

In a statement, the APC said it is “disappointed” with the MEAA’s decision and “does not agree with all of the observations in the MEAA press release.”

The APC did, however, acknowledge there is a “need for the self-regulatory regime to evolve to take account of convergence across all media platforms”, but stopped short of admitting it hadn’t evolved sufficiently in this way.

In its announcement, the MEAA said its members believe the council has “lost credibility” and has failed to keep up with media convergence.

MEAA president, Marcus Strom, said the decision to leave will “spark a serious discussion about media regulation. Currently, our members are more concerned being hauled over the coals on Media Watch than being called before the Press Council. That’s obviously not an acceptable situation.

“Arbitrations have been inconsistent, slow and are increasingly out of touch with community expectations. The Press Council has lost credibility with journalists and even with the publishers who make up its membership.

“There have been too many cases in recent years where adjudications have been mocked or ignored.”

The APC continued: “The APC’s publisher members agree to comply with its binding Standards of Practice. These are periodically updated and Advisory Guidelines issued following community consultation, the most recent of which is the Advisory Guideline for reporting on people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

“Material is evaluated against the Standards of Practice by the APC’s Adjudication Panels, which are independent of publishers, and which make an adjudication decision which the publisher member is compelled to publish.”

The APC has acted as the regulator for newspapers in Australia since 1976.

In 2012, it was proposed by the government’s Independent Media Inquiry, run by ex-Judge Ray Finkelstein, that a joint body governing newspapers, broadcast and online be set up.

Participation in this News Media Council would have been obligatory but the model of enforced self-regulation was ultimately rejected, with News Corp in particular campaigning hard against the proposal.


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