New Zealand May Get a “One-Stop-Shop” Media Regulator

Law Commission president Sir Grant Hammond

        A new proposal in New Zealand may result in a single, independent regulator to watch over every aspect of the country’s media – online news, print and broadcasting.  After much speculation was made by the Law Commission, president Grant Hammond stated that the best move in today’s digital age is to create a “one-stop-shop” media regulator which would be completely independent of the government and industry.  This new watchdog would hear complaints and issue sanctions on all forms of news from current affairs down to opinions.  Hammond also stated that this proposal has not been made in light of any kind of crisis with the media.  Instead, it’s been prompted by the many gaps and imbalances between the many different forms of media that bring the public news and current affairs.  For instance, broadcast news was subject to strict statutory standards and heavy sanctions while online content and content accessed on-demand was subject to far less standards if any at all.

        Although this new regulator would not have the power to actually fine companies, it would the power to force publishers to remove material from a website, correct errors, publish apologies, allow a person a right of reply and ensure that all reporting was done in an ethical manner.  Former TVNZ head of news Bill Ralston stated that, “Shaming is a far worse penalty [than a fine] because you lose faith and trust of your readers and listeners.”

-Lou Iatarola



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