August 13, 2005

By Way of Explanation

by PG

(Sorry for what may have seemed an abrupt curtailment of the Bar Exam symposium -- it will continue with three more days of posts next week.)

My curiosity about how transnational media law might operate only has been heightened by yesterday's Wall Street Journal article -- available free to non-subscribers -- "U.K. Media Law Keeps News On Bomb Suspects Out of Press." The law in question is intended to ensure an unbiased jury for the suspects, and began restricting coverage once they were charged in court. But because these prosecutions may drag on for years, the public will be uninformed about terrorist networks and voters thus are handicapped in their decision-making about whether a particular government proposal, for military action or loss of privacy and liberty, is actually necessary. Assuming that the public reads only UK-produced news, of course:

The media rules, however, are posing increasing problems. The proliferation of the Internet and other alternative media is limiting the British government's ability to restrict information since Britons can read online coverage by foreign newspapers and independent bloggers. In theory, foreign news media are subject to the same restrictions on print editions that are sold on British newsstands and on their Web sites, which can be read in the U.K. But no foreign news outlet has ever been prosecuted under the law.

August 13, 2005 04:59 PM | TrackBack

Doesn't the UK position seem wholly sensible?
The UK court's jurisdiction is the UK (naturally enough) so judges police coverage by the UK press of a trial.
Whilst it would be ideal to have a blanket, international ban on discussing ongoing trials (outside the information available to jurors) to ensure a completely fair trial, it's not possible without some treaty with other countries that would force such a ban.

Posted by: Gavin Whenman at August 14, 2005 03:37 PM
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