Freedom versus regulation 

13 July 2010

Some people still seem to think that the Jon Gaunt versus Ofcom case was all about freedom of speech, but the reality is that it basically related to the ability of a regulator (Ofcom) to actually do its job, therefore Gaunt losing his case against Ofcom was inevitable otherwise all hell would have broken out as a consequence.

UK radio and television broadcasting still has a minimum set of legal, moral and technical standards that have to be adhered to, because without such basic regulatory standards listeners and viewers could be regularly subjected to broadcasting that is offensive to many people on almost any level. (And I’m not talking about Simon Cowell here.)

And you really need to hear the rant in full before claiming that Gaunt’s “Nazi” insult wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. Without effective regulation, the art of presenting would be truly lost in the pursuit of “shock jock” tactics, and the UK doesn’t have the plurality of mainstream media outlets required to offer any effective counterbalance.

It’s ironic that such a fuss about traditional broadcasting is still being made in an era when there’s now a broadcast medium available that’s virtually uncensored – namely the internet – but the brutal truth is that it’s currently much harder to consistently attract a large audience (and make money) online with so many other distractions available.

Of course Gaunt now broadcasts using the online-only SunTalk station, which is basically the logical outcome when you combine tabloid newspapers with tabloid radio, but even with the backing of a national newspaper the potential audience for such essentially unregulated ranting is still significantly smaller.

Now if only Ofcom would do something about The Jeremy Kyle Show…

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