Damian Tambini, Senior Lecturer, Department of Media and Communications, LSE, gives a talk for the Redirecting Fleet Street conference. This paper proposes some concepts that help to understanding the current crisis in UK media governance and ethics, and explain the ongoing difficulties that UK law and policy have faced in responding to it.
The role of voluntary private ethical codes versus legal restraint is discussed, in the light of concepts of media freedom and independence and the notion of the Fourth Estate. In particular, the potential for a new settlement on media power is examined in relation to the framework for
(i) regulation and complaints handling in relation to media ethics and
(ii) media plurality and ownership.
The paper then examines the implications of Manuel Castells' theory of communication power in relation to the institutionalisation and constitutionalisation of media power. The emergence of media power, and the legal and policy response to new centres of media power are examined with reference to attempts to develop checks and balances on media power.