Vienna media trends 2015


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Summary of latest regional court rulings and international bodies that reveal 'global norms' related to the regulation of media and speech.

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Vienna media trends 2015

  1. 1. G R A P P L I N G W I T H ‘ B E S T P R A C T I C E S ’ I N T H E R E G U L A T I O N O F M E D I A & S P E E C H D R . M A T T J . D U F F Y A S S I S T A N T P R O F E S S O R D E P A R T M E N T O F C O M M U N I C A T I O N K E N N E S A W S T A T E U N I V E R S I T Y K E N N E S A W , G E O R G I A , U S A M E D I A T R E N D S C O N F E R E N C E W E B S T E R U N I V E R S I T Y / / V I E N N A , A U S T R I A S E P T . 1 1 , 2 0 1 5 Global norms for media law
  2. 2. Do global norms exist?  Yes, debatable.  I would argue yes. See, for instance, health codes.  But, how to draft them for communication?  Regional courts  Inter-American Court of Human Rights  European Court of Human Rights  African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights  Global bodies  United Nations  OSCE, European Parliament, African Commission  NGOs such as Amnesty International, HRW, FH, RWB  Treaties: ICCPR, UN declaration of human rights
  3. 3. 5 broad categories of media regulations 1) Defamation: Injury to reputation 2) Insult laws: Regulating offense 3) Public order & national security: Providing safety 4) Licensing of journalists: Professionalization? 5) False news laws: Try to prevent untrue journalism Some, not all, fit within Article 19 of ICCPR: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.
  4. 4. Defamation – 3 ‘best practices’ 1) Civil lawsuits rather than criminal charges 1) African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights just overturned a criminal defamation case in Burkina-Faso 2) Truth must be a defense for defamation 1) Otherwise, we allow people to protect good reputations that they do not deserve. 3) Public figures must withstand more scrutiny than private figures  ‘Actual Malice’ – forgives journalists for errors that were not intentional  Not specifically embraced worldwide.  Most courts expect public figures to withstand more scrutiny
  5. 5. Public order & national security  Tricky: Without public safety all other guarantees are meaningless  Laws, legal rulings attempt to give fullest protections for expressions of political speech  Anti-terrorism laws increasingly target speech  Few rulings but certainly a concern  No consensus on hate speech (public order issue)  Some focus on calls for “imminent lawless actions” while others target speech that denigrates a group  Public morals also have no “global norm.”
  6. 6. Insult laws  Most courts, observers see them as vague, abused by powerful, incompatible with free expression  ECHR ruled against ‘insulting the ruler’ case  IACHR also ruled against charge  African Commission called for complete ban on insult laws  ‘Fighting words’ doctrine in US does state that some speech is unprotected if designed to provoke violent response  need to research more  Agreement that public officials should not have power to use insult laws against speakers
  7. 7. Licensing of journalists  Governments that can license journalists can have unfair pressure on robust journalism  Journalists may self-censor if worrying about losing ability to work.  Both African Court and Inter-American Court have ruled against licensing of journalists.  Lies outside of ICCPR guidelines
  8. 8. False news laws  Noble goal – who wouldn’t want truthful reporting?  Problem arises when government officials determine what news is untruthful.  Many courts & bodies have argued that “false news” laws simply incompatible with free expression  Also lies outside ICCPR guidelines
  9. 9. The End!  Dr. Matt J. Duffy  Teacher of media law & journalism at Kennesaw State  Find slides and published papers on:  Email: @mattjduffy