The respective roles of Government regulation and self-regulation were clearly explained in a Ministerial speech in New Zealand on 7th May. The occasion was the launch of the Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA). The CEO of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage on behalf of the Minister of Broadcasting delivered the speech. He said, “The heart of any media regulation must involve self regulation – and OMSA is a good example of that. It has been able to use our other industry-led regulatory regimes – especially the Advertising Standards Authority – as a model for its operations
In accordance with the principles of best practice regulation, self-regulation is at the ‘heart’ of the regulatory structure but to be successful self-regulatory organisations must work with Government regulators to achieve the best outcome.
OMSA is a self-regulatory organisation that has a code and complaints system for online news and current affairs programs by radio and television broadcasters. It fills a gap in the regulation of the media, which is a mix of Government regulation and self-regulation.
Radio and television programs and news are subject to Government regulation by the statutory Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), which has a code and complaints regime. The self-regulatory Press Council has for several decades had a code and complaints system for the print media. Its mandate was extended to online media but excluded online media owned by broadcasters, as it did not have jurisdiction. To fill the gap the broadcasters formed OMSA.
Advertising in all media is self-regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which also operates a codes and complaints system. There is a default provision in the Broadcasting Act – if the broadcaster and advertiser decline the jurisdiction of the ASA in order to escape the hearing of a complaint then the BSA will hear it under its statutory provisions. Furthermore there is an agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the ASA that the ASA reports its activities to the Ministry on a regular basis.
In accordance with the principles of best practice regulation there is close cooperation between the Ministry, BSA, Press Council, ASA and OMSA. A unique feature is that the Press Council, ASA and OMSA share the same offices thus enhancing this cooperation.