Media Reform Coalition consults bloggers and small publishers on press regulation

by Carl Gardner on April 4, 2013

The Media Reform Coalition has spotted that the current proposals in the Crime and Courts Bill, inserted at the last minute to give statutory backing to the press self-regulation system the main parties have agreed on, may not work properly for small and online publishers, like bloggers. So I’m pleased to say it’s decided to consult them on what they’d like to see from the system.

Media Reform shares my concerns that the current proposals may on the one hand expose far too many blogs to the full “costs penalties” intended to apply to full-scale press operations, while at the same time locking them out of the “costs benefits” or protections offered to the press – even if they choose to be regulated. This could be the worst of both worlds for bloggers – who I think should at the very least benefit from the system, whether they choose self-regulation or not, on equal terms with the press.

The consultation asks who should risk being subject to exemplary damages and costs penalties if unregulated, and (something I think is crucial) whether respondents think the costs protections that flow from joining a self-regulator should be available to anyone who joins, whether or not they are a “relevant publisher” as defined in the current proposals.

It also asks about various options for exempting small blogs and publishers from the definition of “relevant publisher”.

You can read the consultation briefing document below (and you’ll see that I contributed in a small way to its drafting) and you can respond to the consultation here. There’s some urgency about this, as MPs will return to debate the system in two weeks or so.

If you’re a blogger or small publisher, please do respond to the consultation.

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