Marcus Evans Group | Worldwide Headquarters | American Offices | Latin America | European Offices | African / Asian Offices

Ofcom spends 15 months on one case… and it hasn’t finished yet

Many critics of the Press Complaints Commission point to Ofcom as a tougher and more efficient media regulator.

Maybe it is tougher because it has a range of sanctions at its disposal, such as the imposition of fines, and in extreme circumstances can revoke a licence to broadcast.

But I’m not so sure about its efficiency. When writing a posting at the weekend about Press TV, I mentioned the case of Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari.

He was detained in Iran while covering the 2009 presidential elections and, while in jail, was interviewed under duress by Press TV.

He was released after 118 days in captivity and, in June 2010, I reported that he had complained to Ofcom about the airing of the jail interview, contesting that it breached broadcasting rules.

It then took Ofcom the best part of a year to agree with his complaint. In May this year, the regulator ruled that Press TV had broken the broadcasting code.

In summary, Ofcom said that Press TV’s presentation of Bahari was unfair because it “omitted material facts and was placed in a context in which inferences adverse to Mr Bahari could be drawn”.

It said Press TV failed to get his consent and this “contributed to the overall unfairness to Mr Bahari in the item broadcast”.

It added that filming and broadcasting the interview without consent “while he was in a sensitive situation and vulnerable state was an unwarranted infringement of Mr Bahari’s privacy”.

So what punishment did Ofcom impose? Well, thus far, none. A spokesman told me yesterday that it was a such serious matter that the regulator was still deciding what to do. Evidently, it is about to make up its mind.

I accept that it would be wrong to rush to judgment. But this case began 15 months ago and is yet to be concluded.

It would appear that, in terms of efficiency at least, the PCC has no lessons to learn from Ofcom. Its system is agonisingly slow. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds