What is Successful Reform? Regulating the News Media for Sustainability

58 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2018

See all articles by Antonia Leggat

Antonia Leggat

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni

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Date Written: July 4, 2018


The last decade has seen a rapid increase in the creation and use of technology. Laws around the globe have struggled to keep up with media that has changed in response to technological convergence. The 2013 Law Commission Report—The News Media Meets 'New Media'—proposed the creation of a single regulatory body, covering all news media who voluntarily join, but its recommendations were rejected by the Government.

This paper tracks the industry's self-regulation following the Law Commission report. It asks the question which has divided stakeholders and differentiates New Zealand, Australian and British drives at reform: what is successful reform of the news media? It concludes that "success" means a responsive, consistent, clear, cohesive and independent self-regulatory system. The New Zealand attempt at reform has led to some short-term benefits, but the current regulatory system's lack of sustainability represents long-term failure of reform. This failure was due to an absence of public or political motivation for reform, the Law Commission's over-emphasis on an industry-preferred scheme, and because New Zealand media has not reached the legal and ethical lows of overseas media. The extent of this failed regulation will become apparent as convergence continues, increasing functional gaps and making harms more evident. Looking forward, a bolder model, including fining and greater incentives, presents the best chance of successful reform.

Keywords: Law Commission, news media, new media, convergence, Leveson inquiry, Finkelstein report

JEL Classification: k00

Suggested Citation

Leggat, Antonia, What is Successful Reform? Regulating the News Media for Sustainability (July 4, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3208391 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3208391

Antonia Leggat (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, Victoria 6140
New Zealand

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