The Commission undertook 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 three 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 (NZLC MB3, 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 recommended 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.
Terms of reference
- 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.
The News Media Meets ‘New Media’: Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age (NZLC IP27, 2011)
The Commission's Issues Paper, The News Media Meets ‘New Media’: Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age (NZLC IP27, 2011) 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.
This was a preliminary paper designed to garner wide public debate and feedback on the scope of the problem and best solutions.
Submissions on Issues Paper 27
The Law Commission received 72 submissions in response to The News Media meets 'New Media' (NZLC IP27). These were from organisations as well as individuals.