Policymakers working on plans for a new media regulator are drafting proposals for blogs to undertake “associate membership” the successor to the Press Complaints Commission, Political Scrapbook understands.
Options being considered as an outcome of a process which predates this week’s shock proposals that many blogs should be regulated include:
- A lower or nominal membership fee for blogs in comparison to newspapers and broadcasters
- Simplified set of obligations/requirements, which would include having clear internal processes to deal with complaints
- Possible representation for bloggers on the new body
With a new body being funded by newspapers and broadcasters, media corporations are understood to be opposed to free membership for blogs and/or comprehensive access to services provided.
The draft proposals echo 2011 comments from Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt in which he suggested a “kitemark” was necessary to tame the “wild west” blogosphere:
“I want accuracy to be the new gold standard for blogs. Once they have agreed to be accurate, everything would follow from that. I would like to see a ‘Kitemark’ on the best blogs so the public can trust what they read in them.”
While the mainstream media have had comprehensive lobbying operations up and running for months, almost no effort was made to consult the blogosphere before surprise amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill widened the scope of proposed regulation.
Blogs across the spectrum, including Political Scrapbook, would be classified as “relevant publishers” under new proposals:
(1) In sections [Awards of exemplary damages] to [Awards of costs], “relevant publisher” means a person who, in the course of a business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit), publishes news-related material—
(a) which is written by different authors, and
(b) which is to any extent subject to editorial control.
Outlets such as Guido Fawkes have already pledged to resist any attempts at regulation.
With policymaking on the hoof and a failure to engage with bloggers, however, the mainstream parties have done their utmost to offend even those who might be open to the new arrangements.