Commentary: A discussion paper released by the New Zealand Law Commission just before the end of 2011 looked into how well the regulatory framework governing the NZ media was working, and concluded that change was needed. Currently complaints must be made first to the publication or broadcaster concerned. Only if the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome is there a right of appeal to the self-regulatory Press Council, for print media, or, for radio and television, to the statutory Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA). The commission’s recommendation is for a new single regulator created by statute to which all complaints about ‘news media’ would be directed. Unlike the Press Council or the BSA, the new regulator could intervene without any complaint being laid and—possibly—even before a story is published where there are concerns about the methods the journalist used to gather information. And, importantly, online media would be included. But debate about the issues in New Zealand have been rather muted compared to the Australian and British debates.
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