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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Politics and the Media 2 - Jersey Evening Post

I have previously examined the legal basis for defining a public authority.  The Jersey Evening Post may be considered a 'functional public authority' as a result of the following laws; the Jersey Gazette Act1960 and the Official Publications (Jersey) Law 1960. These laws enforce the public declaration of certain information in the Jersey Gazette and define the publication in which these pronouncements must be made as the Jersey Evening Post. In a previous post I looked at the concerns raised about the JEP by Senator Cohen and the effect of the media on elections in the United States of America.
Does the role of the JEP in Jersey prevent free & fair elections?
The following legislation all require pronouncements to be made in the Jersey Gazette (although this is not the definitive list, there are many more):

This is clearly a very diverse group of laws and will affect the majority of people's normal daily life.

Hopefully it should be clear that in terms of publication of notices and in each edition of the Jersey Evening Post which contains the Jersey Gazette the Jersey Evening Post is acting as a functional public authority.

Looking at the level of taxpayer money which is spent with the JEP this was £334,000 in 2009/10 and £277,370 in 2010/11. Clearly the economic survival of the Jersey Evening Post is dependent on the taxpayer.

As each issue of a Jersey Evening Post contains official government and legal information; it is unclear whether this has the effect of convincing the people of Jersey that everything that is stated in the Jersey Evening Post is 'official' and therefore 'true'. I of course am not suggesting that everything that the government says is true, clearly it is at best 'presented in the most favourable light'.

There is a further difficulty in that as the only newspaper and the only media agency not subject to the strictures of the broadcasting legislation which requires that all reports are balanced and without bias, it has a disproportionate effect in controlling the social consciousness of Jersey.

It would be most interesting to see whether a Court would consider the existing arrangement as likely to cause an incompatibility with Convention Rights, specifically Article 3 of Protocol 1, the right to free and fair elections.

The lack of debate at the last election was evident as no discussion was made as to the future of the economy of Jersey which clearly is the pre-eminent issue affecting all our futures, there are other points which I will address in future posts.