Human rights act: media law

Media regulators such as the Broadcasting Standards Commission are likely to be “public authorities” under the HRA.

Media companies that exercise public functions (by virtue of a public service remit) may also be public authorities.

Individuals will be able to bring proceedings for injunctions or damages against public authorities if their actions are incompatible with the convention. As a result, media regulators may come under pressure to “beef up” sanctions for breaches of convention rights. Regulators may at the same time find they must adjust their regulatory codes where they restrict free expression. The codes may themselves be used as benchmarks by the courts. The British Board of Film Classification is a step ahead, having recently changed its film classification guidelines. As a result, films classified “18” will be cut much less frequently.