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Legal Limits to Press Freedom - Essay Example

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Legal Limits to Press Freedom

The paper chose this topic on the belief that the right to privacy and right to fair trial are inter-related in a particular way: the right to privacy of a defendant in a court case is violated twice over if news reporters run commentaries that tend to prejudge the case. In fact, these citizen's rights are lumped together as primary concerns of the European Convention on Human Rights, which exhorts member states to adopt measures that would balance the right of the public to be informed and the right to privacy and to fair and unimpeded administration of justice (5). Trial by publicity and media intrusion into the private affairs of citizens are common practices in UK, where tabloid journalism had become so licentious that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) was reorganized and strengthened in 1991 to deal
with media abuses on a self-regulatory basis. On invasion of privacy, hardly a week passes by without a movie celebrity, politician or royalty suing a media organization in London for such intrusion. Violation of the 1981 Contempt of Court Act is also rampant.
This paper focuses its attention on the perceived problem regarding UK media's frequent attempt to cross the line between press freedom and the right of individuals to privacy and to fair trial. ...
with media abuses on a self-regulatory basis. On invasion of privacy, hardly a week passes by without a movie celebrity, politician or royalty suing a media organization in London for such intrusion. Violation of the 1981 Contempt of Court Act is also rampant.

This paper focuses its attention on the perceived problem regarding UK media's frequent attempt to cross the line between press freedom and the right of individuals to privacy and to fair trial. Consequently, the essay looks into the recorded cases of specific media violations of these two citizens' rights, as well as of laws that address those abuses. A significant portion of the paper will illumine the outcomes of the relevant cases after they were brought to court as a tort or criminal complaint. Some of the questions the rest of the essay will seek answers to: Have there been any UK media men penalized for such offenses What was the line of defense used by those favored by the courts What damage does violation of these media laws do on the lives of private citizens Does faithful observance of media laws affect and limit the performance of media men in unearthing the truth and safeguarding public interest



2. Media Practice

In UK, government control of media exists only in matters relating to the Official Secrets Act and violation of the existing libel laws. Outside of these two areas, media practice is practically free of any kind of restraints, guided only by a Code of Practice set by the PCC under a climate of self-regulation. There are 16 provisos in the Code, at least half of which concern people's right to privacy while the other half relate to media coverage of court cases. The clauses involving privacy intrusion include harassment, ...Show more

Summary

The cardinal rule in media practice is that reporters may publish or broadcast anything deemed to be of public interest as long as it is done fairly and for an honest purpose. Like most freedoms, freedom of the press is also subject to certain restrictions so that it is not abused…
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Legal Limits to Press Freedom essay example
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