Media Council of Bermuda

Media Council OVERVIEW

Meetings Procedure


Media Council Board Meetings Procedure

1. Functions

The Media Council Board has three main functions:
1:1 Inquiry: to read and review the documents provided
1:2 To make a reasoned decision
1:3 To determine a penalty, from the options listed in item 6, below

2. Documents

2:1 Each complaint has a case file and is assigned a case file number
2:3 Documents provided to council members, by the Chief Executive Officer, will include:
2:4 Completed Complaint Form (with signature). Forms are available at the Media Council’s website, where they can be completed online or printed out, and also at member media outlets
2:5 Clipping or photo or audio/video tape/screen grab/URL. Video tapes must be obtained within 60 days of the offending broadcast because of limited tape availability
2:6 Written response from editor/news director/web manager
2:7 Brief summary by Chief Executive Officer that explains:
— the section of the Code of Conduct alleged to have been breached
— the progress/outcome of conciliatory efforts involving the complainant and the editor/news director/website manager

3. Meeting procedure

3:1 The Media Council Board will have a general discussion about the complaint and supporting documents
3:2 Chairman goes around the table to ask if the Code of Practice has been breached

4. Actions

The council has four initial options:
4:1 uphold the complaint
4:2 dismiss the complaint
4:3 decide that a measure taken/proposed by the media outlet is sufficient remedial action to resolve the complaint
4:4 make a request for more information

5. Voting

If there is unanimity, no vote is necessary. If there is disagreement, a formal vote is taken. A simple majority wins and in the event of a tie, the chairperson has a casting vote

6. Penalties

In descending order of severity, these are the penalties the Media Council can impose if a complaint is upheld: 
6:1 The greatest penalty the Media Council can impose is to make a reasoned decision against the media outlet. The media outlet is compelled to publish/broadcast/post the decision, with due prominence and with no additional comment, and it may be reported on by other media
6:2 If the breach is particularly serious — if, for example, the media outlet has invaded privacy or ignored the rights of a child as set out in the Code of Practice — the Media Council Board can, in addition to making a reasoned decision against the media outlet, also refer the editor to his or her outlet’s publisher/owner
6:3 The Media Council Board can demand the publication/broadcast/posting of a correction, apology, follow-up piece or letter/comment from the complainant or a private letter of apology from the editor/news director/website manager
6:4 The Media Council Board can demand an undertaking about the future conduct by the media outlet, if the upheld complaint reflects a pattern of behaviour
6:5 The Media Council Board can demand the annotation/amendment/deletion of online material to ensure that an error is not repeated

7. Conclusion

7:1 the chairperson, with the help of the Chief Executive Officer, will sum up the decision of the council
7:2 The decision will be sent to the parties by mail or e-mail and distributed to the media, usually under an embargo
7:3 The summary should not exceed 300 words. An abridged version of the decision will be prepared by the Chief Executive Officer for broadcast purposes

8. No appeal

The Media Council Board’s decision is final. There is no appeal

9. Minutes

9:1 Minutes of meetings will be taken by the Chief Executive Officer and kept by the Media Council Board, but only the decision will be made public
9:2 All upheld complaints will be posted on the Media Council’s website and all complaints, regardless of the outcome, will be numerically recorded on the website

10. Precedent

Decisions of the council might be used for guidance and reference in subsequent cases

11. Miscellaneous

11:1 Complaints to the Council are treated as being against the media outlet, not against any individual reporter/editor
11:2 The complainant cannot attend a meeting of the Media Council and nor can any representative of the media outlet complained against. 
11:3 The Media Council reserves the right to regulate its own proceedings, in consultation with the Appointments Committee