“In the name of the show”- that is how a German weekly newspaper titled an article in March 2009, which was critically dealt with the news coverage on a recent Austrian criminal case. It concluded that the integrity of the person concerned, as well as the police procedures and the jurisdiction of the courts, are all endangered danger as a consequence of the hype caused by the media. The name of the accused, which has been anonymized in the text, was freely displayed at a website, while this article turned into the most read on the newspaper´s homepage.
This tension between the legally protected interests of the freedom of the press and information and the interests of individuals is the central aspect of the third symposium of the series “Media and Law”. This area of conflict is doubtlessly among the most crucial questions of media law and media politics, and due to the increasing numbers of blogs, internet communities and video platforms, its importance is constantly increasing. This was recently displayed in discussions about a draft of a new Media Law.
When it comes to damages caused by unfounded information, the problem of the complex matrix of interests outlined above becomes especially urgent. Society´s interest in comprehensive and up to date news coverage also constitutes a notable danger to the subjects of a report.
In this context, the following questions are raised: Which conditions need to be fulfilled in order to lead to the liability of the media? Which problems arise in connection with the claims for damages? Is there the possibility of finding a balance between the common interest of society and the interest of an individual, which is endangered by the attempt of satisfying the public interest?
The symposium on “Appropriate liability of Mass Media”, hosted by the Centre of Social Sciences of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, will take place on January 28th 2010 at 5 pm in the Academy´s auditorium (1010 Wien, Sonnenfeldgasse 19). Hon.-Prof. Dr. Peter Schiwy, attorney-at-law in Berlin and former director of the “RIAS Berlin” and the “Norddeutschen Rundfunk” and Univ.-Prof. i.R Dr. Helmut Koziol from the Institute for European Tort Law will present lectures at this event; while Hon.-Prof. Dr. Gerhard Hopf, former department head of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice will play the role of moderator.