Media Freedom & Ethics

In 1965 there were 12 television stations and 93 radio stations in mainland China; today there are many thousands of television and radio stations. The new diversity of the media landscape and the surge of social media in China have brought new opportunities and new challenges in Chinese policy. China is producing swathes of new journalists each year, many of whom are hungry for opportunities to improve their professionalism in this increasingly competitive sector, and who face many risks themselves.

GBCC projects in this area have focused on legal reform for the protection of media professionals in China; developing codes of conduct and self-regulation on social media; media ethics and policy research; promoting comparative perspectives, knowledge exchange and the sharing of expertise; and training for journalists, editors, judges handling media cases, and media legal advisors. Whilst GBCC is not currently working in these area, below are summaries of some of our past projects on media freedom and ethics:

Promoting Legal Protection for Chinese Media

Freedom Of Expression Project Jon Snow John Battle And Prof

GBCC brought together partners from Peking University, Renmin University of China’s Centre for Civil and Commercial Jurisprudence, and the Oxford University Programme in Comparative Media Policy and Law to strengthen the capacity and role of media legal advisers in the protection of the rights of journalists. It was funded by a grant from the EU, with co-funding from the British Embassy in Beijing. Over the three-year project period (2011-14), activities included workshops, seminars, a European study visit and European-based research attachments, pilots in two of Beijing’s largest courts and the training of judges and media legal advisors, all of which fed into a judicial guide on handling Tort Law cases relating to the media.

Freedom of expression remains a sensitive area in China, but project found a way to open up debate and further understanding between leading Chinese and European media policy experts and practitioners operating in this area. Discussions between leading EU and Chinese media policy experts covered a diverse range of pre-agreed topics including defamation and internet governance. The media tort law judicial handbook produced by Renmin University has since been adopted as the basis for a Judicial Interpretation by the SPC.

Promoting Better Protection for the Media through Training Legal Practitioners

From 2012-13 GBCC coordinated a training programme for legal practitioners, funded by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and explicitly linked to the goals of a larger EU project to promote legal protection for Chinese media.

Project activities included an innovative moot court competition and the improvement of judicial interpretations through practical usage of the judicial handbook developed under the associated EU project. The success of the moot court competition has seen repeat events held, and UNESCO agreed to fund a repeat competition in 2014/5.

Other Collaborations

Other past projects include study visits on press regulation and media ethics, research on a potential media law with the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a collaboration with the Centre for International Communication Studies at Tsinghua University and the UK’s Thomson Foundation to promote media expertise in China (2005-2007), where over 50 Chinese journalists and editors benefited from four training workshops on improving reporting on the rights of the poor, children, women and marginalised groups.