Britain might get to the bottom of the rot that has set in throughout the mass media in Britain and elsewhere. The tsunami of public outrage over the latest disclosure of phone hacking and police corruption by Rupert Murdoch's crews has led prime minister David Cameron to launch a broad-reaching enquiry to examine "the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers and the way in which management failures may have allowed this to happen. This part of the inquiry will also look into the original police investigation and the issue of corrupt payments to police officers. And it will consider the implications for the relationship between newspapers and the police."
The second, and potentially more important part of the enquiry will scrutinize "the culture, practices and ethics of the press; their relationship with the police; the failure of the current system of regulation; the contacts made, and discussions had, between national newspapers and politicians; why previous warnings about press misconduct were not heeded; and the issue of cross-media ownership."
Clearly, some aspects of the enquiry, including press ethics, media regulation, concentration of ownership and media cross-ownership, are relevant to other countries including Canada. Perhaps the Brits might spark the sort of public debate we've long needed in our own land.
As we've argued repeatedly on this site, the first step to restoration of progressive democracy in our country surely must be the break up of the corporate media. Democracy depends on free public access to the broadest range of opinion. The more voices the better. This drift to concentrated, corporate ownership of the Canadian media inherently undermines our democracy and gives rise to a potential for symbiosis between the corporate media and political authority.
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