Title

Let the press and government grapple: the constitutional question posed by a statutory right of reply

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Meir, M 2012 , 'Let the press and government grapple: the constitutional question posed by a statutory right of reply', Media and Arts Law Review, vol. 17, pp. 368-406.

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to consider whether press regulation, namely, a statutory right of reply where newspapers fall short of legislated journalistic standards, would be compatible with the implied freedom of political communication embedded in the Constitution.

This paper will argue a statutory right of reply could unduly burden the implied freedom. However, the jurisprudence regarding the implied freedom makes any assessment about validity uncertain. It is not clear what standard of review would be used to determine a right of reply’s compatibility with the freedom.Nor has the High Court clearly articulated how it would balance press freedom with other public interests in the event a right of reply was constitutionally challenged.

As a result, the current grapple between the media and government over press freedom provides a potential opportunity for the court to better define the values which underpin our implied freedom of political communication, and how much protection the Constitution offers those values.