- Terms of Reference
- Ministerial Briefing
- Issues Paper
- Media & Speeches
- Government Response
The Commission has undertaken a review of the current regulatory environment for the news media with respect to its adequacy in catering for new and emerging forms of news media – sometimes referred to as the “new media”.
The 3 questions posed by the project’s terms of reference were first discussed in the Issues Paper (December 2011) and in online forums.
In May 2012, the Minister responsible for the Law Commission, the Hon Judith Collins, asked the Law Commission to expedite its recommendations relating to the third question – namely the adequacy of the sanctions and remedies available for harmful digital communication. The Commission provided a Ministerial Briefing, Harmful Digital Communications: The Adequacy of the Current Sanctions and Remedies (August 2012) containing recommendations and a proposed Bill.
The Commission then returned to the first two questions relating to the news media in its final Report The News Media Meets ‘New Media’: Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age (NZLC R128, 2013).
The Report recommends a new complaints body be set up to provide New Zealanders with a consistent set of news media standards and a one-stop-shop for adjudicating complaints across all news producers.
The project was led by media law expert, Professor John Burrows. He was assisted by senior researcher and policy advisor, and former editor, Cate Honoré Brett, and other legal and policy advisers at the Commission.
The summary of independent research into public attitudes commissioned by the Law Commission for the Report is available here.
References to the review in the media
Dominion Post 'Planned regulator charms the cowboys' 8 April 2013
NZ Herald 'Editorial: Laws against cyber-bullying welcomed' 8 April 2013
NZ Herald 'Editorial: Media regime must keep regulation voluntary' 27 March 2013
NZ Herald 'Media industry backs bid for new watchdog' 27 March 2013
Scoop 'The Law Commission New Media NPA Response' 26 March 2013
NZ Listener 'NZ moves towards “one-stop shop” news media super-regulator' 26 March 2013
Scoop 'Labour: Standards Good, But Keep Politicians Away From Appointments' 26 March 2013
The Guardian UK 'New Zealand may create one-stop shop for media regulation' 26 March 2013
Scoop 'New media complaints body proposed' 26 March 2013
Kiwiblog 'Final Law Commission report on new media and news media' 26 March 2013
NBR 'Law Commission recommends single watchdog for old media, new media' 26 March 2013
The Newspaper Works 'Who do our elected politicians serve?" 19 March 2013
NZ Herald 'Son of former Split Enz drummer wanted by Oz police' 3 March 2013
Stuff 'Media websites seek to avoid clampdown' 2 March 2013
Manawatu Standard 'Sordid web pages continue to flourish' 12 January 2013
3News 'Collins to meet US privacy experts' 14 October 2012
Stuff 'Red flags raised over Cyberbullying Bill' 24 September 2012
The Newspaper Works 'Public interest versus private rights' 3 September 2012
Media Law Journal 'Defending the Law Commission' 29 August 2012
Netsafe Blog 'Negotiation is the new black - the "approved agency"' 28 August 2012
Computer World 'InternetNZ to hold workshops on draft cyberbullying Bill' 20 August 2012
The Daily Post ''Hate crime' memes attack staff, students' 18 August 2012
Marlborough Express 'Editorial: Cyber report welcomed' 17 August 2012
The Southland Times 'Editorial: Now we're getting somewhere' 16 August 2012
Voxy 'Course for teens now includes anti cyber bullying' 16 August 2012
Human Rights Commission 'Chief Commissioner calls for education sector to adopt Law Commission's anti bullying recommendations' 16 August 2012
Stuff 'Proposed laws target cyber-bullying' 15 August 2012
Scoop 'Wild web still needs laws' 23 July 2012
NZ Herald 'Hacking into the free press' 21 July 2012
Scoop 'Cyber-Bullying Target in NZ Social Media Crackdown' 20 July 2012
NZ Herald 'Hard line in store for cyberbullies' 22 June 2012
NZ Herald 'Victims of the anti-social network' 19 May 2012
Radio NZ 'Call for laws to combat cyber bullying' 8 May 2012
NZ Herald 'Suicide link in cyber-bullying' 7 May 2012
NZ Herald 'Editorial: Centuries of press freedom under threat' 3 May 2012
NZ Herald 'Law Commission looks to crack down on cyber-bullies' 7 March 2012
Simpson Grierson 'Bloggers, Tweeters and Facebook - New Media or News Media' 22 January 2012
NZ Herald 'Linda Clark: Watchdogs must keep up with media's changing face' 20 January 2012
Dominion Post 'Editorial: Slings and arrows of a single regulator' 19 January 2012
Stuff 'Trouble in cyberspace' 12 January 2012
NZ Listener 'Taming the Media' 3 January 2012
TVNZ Media 7 'Russell Brown talks to Law Commissioner, Professor John Burrows about the future media landscape' 15 December 2011
Otago Daily Times 'Cyber-bullying here to stay: expert' 15 December 2011
SCOOP 'Invitation to an Online Media Shooting' 13 December 2011
Media Law Journal 'Law Commission's media paper' 12 December 2011
Frog Blog 'New report on new media' 12 December 2011
TVNZ 'Newspapers could rally against new media rules' 12 December 2011
TV3 'Law Commission proposes a new media watchdog' 12 December 2011
Stuff 'Light, not heat, needed for new media plan' 12 December 2011
Timaru Herald via Stuff 'Editorial: Social media minefield' 12 December 2011
TV3 'Key accepts law changes for online media' 12 December 2011
Public Address 'News media meets New Media: Privileges and accountabilities' 12 December 2011
Kiwiblog 'News media meets New Media' 12 December 2011
Stuff 'Tough laws for the cyber age requested' 12 December 2011
NZ Herald 'New media rules under proposals' 12 December 2011
NZ Newswire via Yahoo news 'New media tribunal, regulator floated' 12 December 2011
NZ Herald 'Twitter spoofs under spotlight' 7 December 2011
Stuff 'Report on taming 'wild west' bloggers awaited' 5 December 2011
TV3 'Online media laws could be changed' 1 December 2011
Dominion Post via Stuff 'Editorial: Keep media free of govt control' 17 October 2011
- Published 20 Oct 2010
-How to define news media for the purposes of the law.
-Whether and to what extent the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and/ or the Press Council should be extended to cover currently unregulated news media and, if so, what legislative changes would be required to achieve this end.
-Whether then existing criminal and civil remedies for wrongs such as defamation, harassment, breach of confidence and privacy are effective in the new media environment and if not whether alternative remedies may be available.
NZLC R128 The News Media Meets 'New Media': Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age
Obtain a Hard CopyBuy Now: $40.00
Published 26 Mar 2013
- Tel: +64 (04) 473 3453
- Fax: +64 (04) 471 0959
The Commission's Report, The News Media Meets 'New Media': Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age (NZLC R128, 2013), was tabled in Parliament on 26 March 2013. Please see the links below to view a summary of the recommendations and to view the full Report in PDF and eBook form. You can view the Report online here.
The Report recommends a new complaints body be set up to provide New Zealanders with a consistent set of news media standards and a one-stop-shop for adjudicating complaints across all news producers. Membership of the new body would be voluntary and open to both the traditional mainstream news media and the new media (e.g. news and current affairs bloggers and websites), provided they are willing to be accountable to the new standards body. The new body would draw on and strengthen the best features of the current platform-based complaints bodies (the Press Council, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Online Media Standards Authority).
The Report recommends two specific statutory amendments once the new complaints body is established:
- an amendment to the Broadcasting Act 1989, to alter the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Standards Authority;
- amendments to the Privacy Act 1993, the Electoral Act 1993, the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Fair Trading Act 1986 (that confer specific privileges on the news media) to align these statutes with media privileges in the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 - making conferral of the privileges conditional on membership of the new complaints body.
An appendix to the Report contains the Commission’s Ministerial Briefing to the Hon Judith Collins: Harmful Digital Communications: The Adequacy of the Current Sanctions and Remedies (August 2012), containing recommendations and a proposed Bill. This briefing recommended a range of measures to address the problems caused by seriously harmful personal online or digital attacks, including a new criminal offence and the establishment of a Communications Tribunal.
Additionally, the Law Commission commissioned independent research into public perceptions of (a) news media standards, accountability and complaints bodies; and (b) the occurrence of online speech harms. A summary of the research is available below.
Ministerial Briefing - Harmful Digital Communications: The adequacy of the current sanctions and remediesPublished 15 Aug 2012
In May 2012, in response to rising concerns about the impact of cyber-bullying on young people, the Minister responsible for the Law Commission, the Hon Judith Collins, asked the Law Commission to fast-track the part of the project dealing with the third leg of the terms of reference – namely the adequacy of the sanctions and remedies for dealing with harmful digital communications. The final recommendations are set out in this Ministerial Briefing Paper, Harmful Digital Communications: The adequacy of the current sanctions and remedies. This is accompanied by a draft bill.
This briefing will be annexed to the final report on the New Media Review when it is completed and tabled in Parliament.
NZLC IP27 The News Media meets 'New Media': Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 12 Dec 2011
-Who are the news media and what is their role in society?
-Should the news media continue to have access to special legal privileges to enable them to do their job? If so, who should qualify for these privileges and under what conditions?
-What standards should apply to the news media and how should they be held accountable to these standards?
-And what legal standards and accountabilities should apply to the thousands of ordinary New Zealanders who are not part of the news media but who make use of digital technology and the read/write web to publish and communicate publicly in a variety of mediums?
These are some of the challenging questions the Law Commission considers in its Issues Paper, The News Media Meets ‘New Media’: Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age (NZLC IP27, 2011).
The paper was prepared in response to a Government request for a review of the legal and regulatory environment in which New Zealand’s news media and other communicators are operating in the digital era.
It is important to stress that this is a preliminary paper designed to garner wide public debate and feedback on the scope of the problem and best solutions.
Submissions closed on 30 March 2012.
Join the debate
Participate in discussion forums on these topics at Public Address. Public Address is a community website of New Zealand-centric weblogs featuring Russell Brown and regular guest contributors.
Current discussion questions:
Participate in the discussion on Kiwiblog:
Participate in the discussion on Pundit:
- Published 4 Apr 2013
Watch Russell Brown of Media3 interview Cate Brett, Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor at the Law Commission, on the reception of the Law Commission's Report News Media Meets 'New Media': Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age (NZLC R128, 2013).
Link to the video here.
- Published 16 Aug 2012
Sir Grant Hammond and Professor John Burrows discuss the Ministerial Briefing Paper, Harmful Digital Communications: the adequacy of the current sanctions and remedies.
2. Background to the review 0:50
3. Professor John Burrows on harmful digital communications 1:44
4. The concern over digital communications 2:50
5. The existing law and proposed changes 4:34
6. Creating effective enforcement 8:41
7. A proportionate response 13:33
8. Dealing with anonymity and other jurisdictions 14:39
9. A toolkit for schools 16:08
10. In closing... 19:17
- Published 5 Nov 2013
The Law Commission welcomes the introduction of the Harmful Digital Communications Bill in Parliament today by the Justice Minister Judith Collins.
- Published 26 Mar 2013
The Law Commission is recommending a single new body be set up to provide New Zealanders with a consistent set of news media standards and a one-stop-shop for adjudicating complaints across all news producers.
The new body, provisionally called the News Media Standards Authority, would be independent of Government and would not be established by legislation.
The full media release is available below. The summary, recommendations and full Report are available here.
- Published 15 Aug 2012
New Zealanders who are victims of serious personal attacks in cyber-space will have access to a specialist Communications Tribunal with the power to issue takedown orders and to reveal the identities of anonymous offenders if the Law Commission’s latest recommendations to Government are adopted.
The proposal forms part of a package of reforms designed to help combat problems such as cyber-bullying and other harmful uses of new communication technologies, including social media platforms.
The Law Commission’s proposals are contained in a Ministerial Briefing prepared for Justice Minister Judith Collins. In May, the Minister asked the Commission to fast-track its work in this area in response to growing concern from Police, Coroners and teachers about the impact of cyber-bullying.
- Published 15 Aug 2012
All schools would be required to implement effective programmes to combat bullying, including cyber-bullying, if the Government accepts the Law Commission’s latest recommendations.
The recommendation is one of a package of reforms proposed by the Commission in a Ministerial Briefing prepared for Justice Minister Judith Collins. In May, the Minister asked the Commission to fast-track its work in this area in response to growing concern from Police, Coroners and teachers about the impact of cyber-bullying.
Project leader and media law expert Professor John Burrows said the Commission’s focus has been on the legal framework which anchors educational policies dealing with issues of student safety and well-being.
Publication of Submissions on The News Media Meets 'New Media': Rights, Responsibilities, and Regulation in the Digital AgePublished 3 May 2012
Submissions on the Law Commission’s preliminary proposals for regulating the news media and addressing the problems of harmful speech in the digital era are now available on the Commission’s website.
The Commission received more than 70 formal submissions on its paper, The News Media meets ‘new media’; rights, responsibilities and regulation in the digital age.
Many more contributed through online discussions, including forums hosted on current affairs blog sites Public Address, andKiwiblog.
The project’s lead Commissioner, Professor John Burrows, said the Issues Paper had attracted many high calibre submissions from a wide range of new and traditional media organisations including Google and Facebook.
Professor Burrows said the level of engagement from New Zealand’s major news organisations was particularly encouraging and the Commission was interested to see a number of proposals coming forward from these organisations to address the regulatory gaps identified in the Commission’s report.
- Published 12 Dec 2011
The Law Commission is seeking New Zealanders’ views on the role of the news media in society and the standards to which they should be held to account.
In its latest Issues Paper, The News Media Meets ‘New Media’: rights, responsibilities and regulation in the digital age, the Law Commission puts forward a number of preliminary proposals for reforming the regulatory environment in which the news media operate.
It also asks whether the legal rights and responsibilities which have traditionally applied to news media should be extended to some new media publishers, such as current affairs bloggers and web-only news sites.
Watch Video - Commissioner John Burrows discusses key aspects of the review with Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor, Cate Brett
Government Response to Harmful Digital Communications: the Adequacy of the Current Sanctions and RemediesPublished 14 Oct 2013
The Government Response to the Law Commission Ministerial Briefing Paper entitled Harmful Digital Communications: the Adequacy of the Current Sanctions and Remedies (2012) is available here.
Government Response to The News Media meets 'New Media': Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital AgePublished 14 Oct 2013
The Government Response to the Law Commission Report entitled The News Media Meets 'New Media': Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age (NZLC R128, 2013) is available here.