Legal and Ethical Issues- CBBC Newsround
Media regulation is guidance set out by a governing body. There are two types of media regulation;
- External Regulation- Laws set by the government (some laws that impact on media production) e.g. Contempt of Court, Obscene Publications Act, Defamation Law, External regulation controlled by the government
- Internal Regulation- Codes of conduct set by national organisations linked to a range of media industries. Internal regulation is by the industry itself. These organisations create codes of conduct which impact on media production. E.g. ASA, Ofcom, bbfc
Ofcom is an ethical code for television and radio covering standards, sponsorship, fairness and privacy.
Section 1 of Ofcom is protecting under 18s.
Material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of under 18s must not be broadcast.
Such as, violence, drugs, alcohol and sexual content.
Children under 15 for Ofcom must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable.
The watershed is 9pm. The programmes aired before watershed include news, soaps, game shows for e.g. The Cube, which include no strong language, violence or sexual content. Programmes aired after watershed are programmes which include films for over 15 and 18, stand up shows and medical shows which include strong language, sexual content, violence and explicit imagery.
Defamation is something which is published which causes serious harm to a person’s reputation.
The definition of defamation is:
- Lower the person in the minds of right-thinking members of society;
- Injures the person’s job reputation;
- Causes a person to be shunned or avoided;
- Exposes a person to hatred or ridicule.
Journalists can print defamatory comments if they can prove a legal defence. The statement must be true and the journalist must be able to back up the truth with evidence.
You may make defamatory comments as long as they are in the public interest and you can prove what you are saying is based on true facts.
Prince Harry has been photographed at a party where police were called after reports of illegal drug abuse.
The Ofcom Broadcasting Code would impact my editorial decision of the Prince Harry story by limiting content as it will be aired on the children’s channel CBBC.
This story includes drug abuse of a Royal Family member which is a sensitive subject.
To show children that what has happened in this particular news is not right, the news should end on a positive outcome and show what is right or wrong in this situation.
Ofcom would also interfere with the scheduling times of the programme Newsround on CBBC. Newsround will be aired at the times for suitable aged children, when they are not at school etc.
As an editor, especially this rule of Ofcom must be obeyed specifically for this subject of news:
The use of illegal drugs, the abuse of drugs, smoking, solvent abuse and the misuse of alcohol:
• must not be featured in programmes made primarily for children unless there is strong editorial justification;
• must generally be avoided and in any case must not be condoned, encouraged or glamorised in other programmes broadcast before the watershed (in the case of television), or when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio), unless there is editorial justification;
• must not be condoned, encouraged or glamorised in other programmes likely to be widely seen or heard by under-eighteens unless there is editorial justification.
The Defamation Law impact would be trying not to leave a negative look towards Prince Harry from the children’s point of view. However, it is important to allow them to realise the news subject, drug abuse, is not a good thing. The news should also inform the children what the consequences of drug abuse would be for them and for Prince Harry.
However, the scenario does not say that Prince Harry had been taking any drugs and there is no proof of this. Also, no evidence means that the Defamation Law stops you from making any false accusations.When covering a story like this, because of the Defamation Law, you cannot have a negative affect on someone unless you can prove it.
As editor of Newsround, I would ask a reporter to find a witness of Prince Harry taking or not drugs to provide evidence. Additionally, I would include the subject of drug abuse, however no images to show the young viewers or glamourising drug use as mentioned in Ofcam rules. I need to make sure I follow Ofcam Broadcasting Code rules. Specifically Section 1 Protecting Under 18s. A part of Section 1 mentions how to cover illegal use of drugs in programmes made primarily for children. According to Ofcom “the use of illegal drugs, the abuse of drugs, smoking, solvent abuse and the misuse of alcohol must not be condoned, encouraged or glamorised in other programmes likely to be widely seen or heard by under-eighteens unless there is editorial justification.” (2015)