The landscape of law, ethics and regulation

- The media are the eyes and ears of the general public, and free media is an essential element in maintaining parliamentary democracy.

- The European Convention on Human Rights has codified fundamental freedoms, including that of freedom of expression.

- Sources of UK law include custom, precedent and statutes and statutory instruments, and European Union Regulations.

- The two main divisions of the law are criminal and civil law, and journalists need to use correctly the legal terms appropriate for the type of court they are reporting.

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Press Regulations

- The Editors' Code of Practice sets standards for journalists working for newspapers, magazines and free-standing editorial websites.

- It has clauses to uphold accuracy and to protect people's privacy.

- It permits undercover reporting but only if justified by special 'public interest' factors.

- The Independent Press Standards Organisation, which adjunicates on complaints against editors and journalists in member organisations in newspaper, magazine and online sectors, requires editors to publish adverse adjunications.

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Broadcast Regulations

- Broadcast journalism is regulated by the Office of Communications (OfCom).

- Broadcast organisations must comply with the OfCom Broadcasting Code, which requires them to avoid harm and offence, to be fair and to protect people's privacy.

- OfCom has statutory powers to compel broadcasters to air its adjudications on complaints against them.

- It can fine them for the worst trangressions of the code, and can close a commercial broadcaster which persistantly or recklessly flouts the code.

- There must be 'due accuracy' and 'due impariality' in all broadcast news.

- The BBC is not regulated by OfCom as regards accuracy and impartiality. The BBC Trust is the ultimate adjudicator on complaints against the BBC in these respects.

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The landscape of law, ethics and regulation

- The media are the eyes and ears of the general public, and free media is an essential element in maintaining parliamentary democracy.

- The European Convention on Human Rights has codified fundamental freedoms, including that of freedom of expression.

- Sources of UK law include custom, precedent and statutes and statutory instruments, and European Union Regulations.

- The two main divisions of the law are criminal and civil law, and journalists need to use correctly the legal terms appropriate for the type of court they are reporting.

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