Seven West Media plays chicken with press self regulation

I hope I’m wrong, but I think that press self regulation in Australia died at 12.28 this afternoon.

That was the time that Seven West Media announced it was withdrawing from the Australian Press Council for its own “alternative independent complaints-resolution body”.

Self regulation was already on the critical list following the publication of the independent inquiry in to the media and its call for a new government-funded News Media Council.

The main hope for the press to continue to manage its own affairs was to act with one voice, including finding a way to regulate online news offerings. behind the scenes, an all new structure for the APC has been taking shape.

Clearly what is entirely untenable is for every news organisation to set up its own body. Even if it’s a complex multimedia beast like Seven West which owns newspaper, magazine, TV and online offerings.

That would be chaotic and unacceptable, I’m sure, to members of the public who cared.

The management at Seven West Media say they won’t be commenting further for now. So it’s hard to say what has possessed them although it looks like there’s something coming in the new look APC that they’re not keen on.

They aren’t stupid, so I presume they must be aware that such a move will threaten the chances of self-regulation remaining.

Maybe, for some reason, that’s what the organisation really wants, and this is a move to trigger it.

Or perhaps, it’s unhappy with the course the APC is taking, and this is a huge bluff to bounce it in a new direction.

Either way, it’s a very dangerous game.

Tim Burrowes





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