Fit to print?

Love it or hate it, the Daily Mail has a huge readership both in print and on its website. So aware of its worldwide audience is the Mail that its website, when viewed within the United States of America, produces a whole new tranche of sensationalist, audience-winning and, yes, cleverly-written stories aimed specifically at that country’s population. One need only take a short hop across the border to Canada to type the same address in one’s browser, then to be greeted once more by the familiar UK front page.

Paul Dacre, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, spoke passionately on Wednesday morning about the progress of press reporting standards in the UK, and also awakened the spectre of a straitjacketed press should Parliament vote for compulsory press regulation:

News, let me remind you, is often something that someone – the rich, the powerful, the privileged – doesn’t want printed…. Indeed, I would argue that Britain’s commercially viable free press – because it is in hock to nobody – is the only really free media in this country. Over regulate that press and you put democracy itself in peril.

Paul Dacre’s speech is on-line here, at The Guardian’s website.

Privacy in a Public Place: “Droit d’image”?

Often, I’ve heard it said that the general public, while going about their daily lives in a public place, can have no expectation of privacy from filming, particularly if a documentary programme is being shot around them. However, a new ruling by Ofcom, the UK’s broadcasting regulator, has upheld a complaint of intrusion of privacy made by a worker, filmed in a public place, who asked a programme maker not to include his footage; and yet it was still shown.

The full ruling is here (search for ‘David Gemmell’ in the text). It would be sensible for film-makers to take the greatest care to keep records of requests made by their subjects, whether featured or not, and to abide by commitments made in correspondence with them.

Note that this was not a case of a consent/clearance form not being obtained: it was a particular objection to broadcast, which the programme-maker stated, in writing, would be respected. This ruling, also, does not raise the spectre of UK regulations mirroring the French concept of droit d’image which is shared by some other jurisdictions.