Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
24 MARCH 2009
Q400 Chairman: A very, very short
Sir Christopher Meyer: Just to
illustrate to Mr Farrelly that despite all the technological development
we still hold to the principle that the buck stops with the editor
in the sense that the editorial decision on content, be it online
or in print, be it static or audiovisual, the responsibility still
in the end falls to the editor, because unless you have that as
a cornerstone of this system you start to get in terrible trouble
about who is responsible for what. It may be difficult for an
editor now to control everything that goes on in the empire, but
the principle has not changed.
Q401 Adam Price: Finally, looking
10 years down the line, we are in the internet age but we are
actually moving towards convergence. If you go to most national
newspapers these days they look half like a television studio
or a radio studio. Jon Gaunt gets sacked on TalkSport and
now is going to be fronting up the Sun's Sun Talk
live morning show where he will probably be reproducing much of
the same stuff. If he calls somebody, as he did, a Nazi or an
ignorant pig you will be able to intervene, but if he offends
taste or decencyif he had been on radio of course there
would have been an inquiryyou are not going to intervene.
Is that not a contradiction?
Sir Christopher Meyer: There is
a big structural question in what you have just said and also
there is an immediate question. I can tell youand the Sun
will confirm thisthat the Jon Gaunt radio show will be
under our jurisdiction. We have managed so far to handle the visual
side of audiovisual perfectly well and now we are getting the
audio side of audiovisual and I have every confidence we will
handle that equally well. Down the line, 10 years from nowand
I have said this beforeI would be most surprised if the
regulatory architecture were the same as it is today for precisely
convergence reasons. I had this dreamwhich may be no more
than a fantasythat actually in the end Ofcom will get out
of content, will get out of television broadcasting content, because
the only way to go in the digital age is self-regulatory. Only
self-regulation has the flexibility and the buy-in from the industry
to create clearings of order in the jungle of the internet.
Adam Price: There is a thought.
Chairman: I am not sure that at 12 minutes
past one we can reopen the entire Communications Act; that is
for another day perhaps. Can I thank all three of you very much.