Call to be made for creation of Scottish media ombudsman

A CALL is to be made today for the establishment of a Scottish media ombudsman, to replace the operation of the Press Complaints Commission and the broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, in Scotland.

Three years on from first having raised the idea, the Scottish Organiser of the National Union of Journalists, Paul Holleran, is to suggest the creation of a Scottish media mommission this evening.

He will be doing so at the annual general meeting of the Cross Party Group on Culture and the Media, which operates out of the Scottish Parliament and includes both MSPs and non-MSPs among its members.

Its convenor is Falkirk East MSP, Cathy Peattie.

Holleran is citing the Irish Press Council and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act of five years ago as examples of what could be created and how it could be done.

He said: “Ofcom was created as a ‘light-touch regulator’ and the PCC’s scope is limited. Both have their limitations and it means their are not fully serving either the industry or the public.”

The recent launch – by First Minister, Alex Salmond – of a commission looking into the future of Scottish broadcasting is partly why Holleran has chosen to re-visit his idea.

He says the timing is also right, following the large support – from journalists and the general public – for recent strike action at the Herald group of newspapers.

It is Holleran’s opinion that any Scottish media ombudsman should have the power to issue penalties to media organisations.

He added that he is already confident of the support of many MSPs, as he aims to get his plans on to the statute book.