Saturday, 4 June 2011

The 'toothless' regulator

In 2007, the broadcast regulator Ofcom fined GMTV £2m for 'widespread and systematic deception' in the way they ran premium rate phone-in competitions.

The same year, Ofcom fined Channel 4 £1.5m for similar breaches of the Code.

And in 2009, they fined the BBC £150,000 for the infamous Sachsgate phone calls.

Along with fines, Ofcom can also revoke licences - in November 2010, they did just that for four adult channels that were ''no longer fit and proper' to remain on air, following 'serious and repeated' breaches of Ofcom's broadcasting code'.

The Mail, however, is still smarting from the fact Ofcom didn't rule the way it wanted over The X Factor final, and those performances from Christina Aguilera and Rihanna that were so scandalous, the Mail published dozens of photos and the videos to show how appalled they were.

So today, in its editorial, it dismisses Ofcom as 'pathetic' and 'toothless' and says it has 'contemptibly failed to take any meaningful action'.

Indeed, it's so 'toothless' that it once fined the Daily Mail and General Trust £225,000 for a breach of its public service broadcasting licence for Teletext.

Compare that to, say, the Press Complaints Commission. It has no power to fine newspapers. It will do absolutely nothing about the Daily Star saying Simon Cowell 'is dead' in a front page headline. It even lets the Mail get away with burying corrections, so that clarifications for British stories are hidden in the US section of the Mail's website.

So what does Mail editor Paul Dacre have to say about the PCC?

the PCC has over the years been a great success story.

But could Dacre point to all those occasions when the PCC has taken 'meaningful action' against the Mail? Or indeed against any other paper?

Is it Ofcom or the PCC that is really a 'toothless' regulator?

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