Digital Convergence and Content Regulation
VIEW Journal Issue . 6 p. 125- 135
Distribution systems for broadcasting, Press and Internet journalism are converging: the same infrastructure can deliver all three historically separate services. Reception devices mirror this: the Connected TV, the tablet and the smart phone overlap in their functionality. Service overlaps are evident too, with broadcasters providing online and on-demand services and newspapers developing electronic versions. Does this mean that media regulation policies must converge too?My argument is that they should, though only where historically different communications are now fulfilling a similar function, e.g. broadcaster online services and electronic versions of newspapers. Convergence requires a degree of harmonisation and, to this end, I advocate a review of UK broadcasting’s ‘due impartiality’ requirement and of the UK’s application of the public service concept. I also argue for independent selfregulation (rather than state-based regulation) of non-public-service broadcasting journalism. These proposals are UK-specific since, given the regulatory and cultural differences between countries, detailed policy changes are likely to be determined mainly at national level, but I note the wider European context. Moreover, the underlying principle is relevant internationally: as freedom of entry into the non-public service sector of broadcast and online journalism becomes closer to the historically much greater freedom of entry into the Press, so the regulation of freedom of expression in these converging fields should become more consistent – and, I would argue, less state-based.