Media Council Act 2010
19 July 2010 | Premier Ewart Brown
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will be aware that this Government introduced a bill entitled the Media Council Act 2010 for the consideration of this Honourable House at the beginning of this Session. The introduction of that Bill spurred the local media into action and the international watchdogs into offence.
In the months since the Bill was placed on the Order Paper a considerable amount of work has been done by the local media and led by Mr. Tony McWilliam, Editor of the Bermuda Sun, a self-regulating council has been set up. Mr. Speaker, Mr. McWilliam’s leadership in this regard has been exemplary and largely through his efforts a workable code of practice has been devised, 12 media outlets have subscribed to it and propose to be governed by its tenets.
Mr. Speaker, while I remain skeptical about the commitment of many in the media to practice what they now preach, the steps taken thus far are positive ones and must be encouraged. It is too soon to say that this Bill is no longer required and as such while it may not be taken up in this Session, it remains at the disposal of legislators in the next.
Mr. Speaker, the business of accountability is not new to Governments in Bermuda but it is unchartered territory for the media. In much the same manner as the affairs of government are enhanced by strict accountability measures and the vigilance of members of the public, the same is required of the media. In the absence of a statutory framework it is the responsibility of every citizen to demand accuracy, fairness and balance in the media’s reporting.
Ownership of the code of practice must now be fostered through ease of access and a committed PR campaign to ensure that the public is well informed of its rights. Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that prior to the growth of a self-regulating council, its brief adolescence was characterized by vilification of this Government for promoting the very ideals that now form the coalition of self-regulation. Clear evidence Mr. Speaker, that in Bermuda, its not what you say but who says it.
Mr. Speaker, this Government is pleased to have ignited the flame of improved media standards and we will continue to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all people in this community, striking the balance between freedom and fairness.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.