Media needs new complaints body

DomPost - Letter | Saturday, 31 December 2011

DomPost, 31 December 2011 - Media needs new complaints body

I'd like to thank Unicef NZ's Dennis McKinlay for his timely observations about online child abuse (Features, Dec 27).  I'd add two things.

First, he mentions the need for international co-operation; here we could learn from Australia, where legislation is pending to require internet service providers to monitor standards.  New Zealand has a voluntary code, which doesn't work for cyberstalking and online grooming.

Second, the Government must support recent recommendations by the Law Commission and former justice minister Simon Power about the need to get rid of the Wild West from our media landscape, where anyone in the electronic media can do pretty much anything they please.

In practical terms, that means a common complaints body, with common rules and standards, covering all media, so we don't have broadcaster Jeremy Wells mouthing obscenities on late night TV that would never be allowed in print.

Why should our kids be forced to wade through a moral swamp every night on the box?

To those media spokespeople who will immediately start railing against this, citing the right to free expression, I can only reply, "What about the rights of the child?"

John Terris
President, Media Matters in NZ

Features, 27 December 2011 - Related article:

Searching for ways to prevent online child abuse
DomPost Online | Tuesday, 27 December 2011
By Dennis McKinlay

OPINION: How do we tackle online child sexual abuse while still giving young people access to the internet?  It's a thorny problem, but some thought is starting to sort fact from the emotion that has accompanied this debate. [ Read full article ... ]