ICE blogs

November 3, 2017

Sky Sports News executive editor says ‘Sky sources’ ticker can refer to information from one source

By Louise Byrne

Source: Press Gazette

The executive editor of Sky Sports News, Andy Cairns, said the phrase “Sky sources” used in the breaking news ticker sometimes refers to information from just one source rather than at least two sources which might have been best practice in the past.

Speaking on Friday at a conference on ethics and sports journalism, Cairns said the growing phenomenon of “unnamed sources” was not ideal, but was in part the result of the heightened competition to be the first with the news.

“We’ve had to respond. I think for a while, most news organisations followed the two sources rule for any story. With the pace of news and increased competition, that’s not workable now for every story.”

Cairns conceded that it happened “too often probably”, but said there was still careful evaluation of a source based on asking the right questions and an extensive contact base.

He also said there was now a disturbing middle ground occupied by news and gossip websites, or Twitter accounts with large followings, where different rules applied.

Sky Sports News had set up a special team to break original news and verify quickly stories on social media.

“The challenge comes when a rumour gathers momentum on social media. We can’t ignore it so we are honest with our viewers… that we are checking to verify and that we will update as soon as we can.

Cairns – who was speaking at the Institute of Communication Ethics (ICE) Annual Conference entitled: Sports Journalism: ethical vacuum or ethical minefield? – added that the increasingly tight control exercised by press officers and clubs, who were often running their own media channels, was also part of the problem.

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April 16, 2016

EU rulings ‘put press freedom at risk’

New EU rulings on whistleblowers and ‘right to be forgotten’ laws put press freedom at risk, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The passage of the European Trade Secrets Protection Act is particularly controversial. A number of MEPs and members of the press including Elise Lucet, a France2 investigative journalist whose petition against the Bill gathered half a million signatures, warned: ‘The trade secrets directive still raises doubts as to whether journalists and whistleblowers are appropriately protected.’ And Martin Pigeon, of the non-governmental organisation, Corporate Europe Observatory, told the BBC: ‘It would have potentially criminalised the release of Panama Papers.’

The Data Protection Package also raises concerns. Despite assurances from the commission, the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, under which search engines can be ordered to de-list entries from web searches, has been carried over under a ‘right to erasure’ provision. According to George Brock, Professor of Journalism at City University London: ‘Contrary to what is often claimed, the [new] regulation does not solve the problems caused by the Google Spain case of 2014 which established the right for individuals to ask major search engines, such as Google, for internet links to be taken down if certain conditions are met. Instead of a specific remedy to an identifiable problem, the regulation is sweeping in its scope and powers and its approach to weighing free expression against privacy remains unbalanced.’

Members of the press in EU countries are already facing challenges, with Germany considering using the law against insulting a country’s leader to bring charges against a television comedian for allegedly insulting the Turkish president, and a photojournalist in Spain being fined €601 under the country’s so-called gag law after posting a photograph of a policeman making an arrest. In France, photojournalist Maya Vidon-White has been charged under a law banning the publication of photographs showing victims of terror attack, according to Associated Reporters Abroad.

• See Jean-Paul Marthoz at

April 9, 2008

Adbuster fights to show ’subvertisements’ on Canadian TV

Filed under: News, Headlines, advertising ethics, media policy, human rights — news_editor @ 10:01 pm

The media activism site RINF reports that one of Adbusters’ founders is fighting TV owners in the courts for the right to buy advertising time from them, arguing that, in exercising their editorial control, they are restricting the public right to communicate over the airwaves. RINF’s reporter James Ewart writes:

Kalle Lasn is a fighter for the right to communicate. A privilege, says the founder of Adbusters magazine, that goes one step farther than the freedom of speech.

‘You can stand on the corner and shout at people as they are going by,’ Lasn says. ‘But if a handful of corporations have media in their pocket, they can totally hoodwink the public.’

From his home in Vancouver, Lasn himself communicates to the masses on the pages of Adbusters—a 10-year-old culture-jamming magazine published through the Adbusters Media Foundation.

On Feb. 18, the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed a case that Lasn brought forth, which argued that Canadian TV conglomerate CanWest Global was obligated, under the Canadian Broadcasting Act, to sell television advertising time to Adbusters.

The court’s dismissal reiterated the rulings of North American courts that have found private TV broadcasters under no obligation to allow the public access to public airwaves.

‘This case goes right to the very heart of democracy—[about] who has a voice and who doesn’t,’ Lasn says.

Of the major broadcasters, only CNN has aired Adbusters’ ‘Buy Nothing Day’ commercials (or ’subvertisements’) that tell people not to go shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving.

One of the subvertisements mocks Calvin Klein’s black-and-white underwear ads. This 30-second parody concludes with an ultra-slim model replaced by a more normally proportioned woman bent over a toilet as if giving into a bulimic impulse. ‘Why are nine out of 10 women dissatisfied with some aspect of their own bodies?’ the narrator asks blankly. ‘The beauty industry is the beast.’

(The rejected ads, along with the tape-recorded refusals from major media organizations, are available at

Lasn first filed his suit in 1995, after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) terminated an advertising contract when the automobile industry complained about an Adbusters anti-car ad. The Supreme Court of Canada, however, chose not to hear the case.

In 2004, following a string of CanWest refusals to air any of Adbusters’ 30-second TV parodies that ridiculed the forestry, fast food, pharmaceutical and high fashion industries, Lasn filed suit against the corporation, which owns three major daily newspapers and a majority of TV stations in Vancouver.

‘We just want this high-minded, legal right to walk into a television station and buy airtime under the same rules and conditions as advertising agencies do,’ Lasn says.

Adbusters is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada—again.

‘We’re not just trying to win a legal battle,’ Lasn says. ‘We’re trying to create a sort of media literacy lesson for all the people in North America to show the fact that there is no democracy on the public airwaves.’

‘It’s pretty ridiculous that a nonprofit, public interest group can’t buy advertising on the public airwaves,’ says Steve Anderson, coordinator of the nonprofit Canadian Campaign for Democratic Media. ‘What’s interesting is that the CBC, specifically, wouldn’t allow this, because the CBC, unlike PBS [in the United States], runs advertisements.’

Lasn is optimistic about efforts to democratize the public airwaves, and says he may bring suit against U.S. broadcasters under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rather than on constitutional grounds, where U.S. courts have consistently sided with broadcasters.

Currently in development is an ad for Adbusters’ Blackspot shoes, which are made at a union factory out of organic hemp and old tires. When the Blackspot ads are finished, Lasn plans to pitch them to MTV. Unlike previous ads, the Blackspot ad will promote a product, and therefore not be restricted by broadcasters’ advocacy ad guidelines.

‘This actually happens fairly frequently [in the United States], that groups try to buy ad time and networks refuse to sell it,’ says Angela Campbell, a law professor at Georgetown University and director of its Institute for Public Representation, a program at the school that specializes in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issues. ‘The court almost always sides with the broadcasters,’ she says.

Campbell points to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in CBS v. Democratic National Committee. Major news networks were pressured to air ads opposing the Vietnam War, and the high court ruled that broadcasters can control editorial content, and are thus free to choose what ads they want to run.

Campbell says the court cited the Fairness Doctrine, which obligated broadcasters to air different perspectives on an issue. And because the networks’ coverage of the Vietnam War was already in accordance with the statute, it was not necessary for the public to see ads against the war.

‘Subsequently, our FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine,’ she says, ‘and one could argue that today, when we don’t have the Fairness Doctrine as sort of that backstop, it’s questionable if the case would come out the same way.’

In theory, broadcasters are supposed to serve the public, and that is the standard the FCC uses for granting and renewing broadcast licenses for networks to use the airwaves.

‘The majority of the FCC today takes the attitude that public interest means whatever the marketplace will bear,’ Campbell says. ‘There are some public interests they are concerned about, but they don’t have very many enforceable standards. So the stations can do pretty much whatever they want.’

Ultimately, Lasn hopes to begin dismantling media conglomerates with antitrust lawsuits, demanding the media devote at least a minute of public airtime for every hour devoted to corporate interests, and establishing a new human right—the right to communicate.

‘How come we the people don’t have access to one of the most powerful social communication mediums of our time, the television?’ Lasn asks. ‘There is this new human right in the information age, this right to communicate, which goes farther than freedom of speech.’

December 12, 2007

Agreement on food ads aimed at children

Filed under: advertising ethics — news_editor @ 8:55 pm

The International Herald Tribune reports that the majority of large food and drinks makers in Europe have agreed to stop targeting ads for poor quality food at children under the age of 12. The voluntary agreement, after pressure from the EU, covers print, television and Internet ads. The companies - including Coca-Cola, Groupe Danone, Burger King, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Ferrero and Unilever - have not yet detailed what quality food means, but are talking of nutritional criteria which they will develop before the agreement comes into force at the end of 2008. They have also agreed to limit their promotional efforts in schools.

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