Tweeters and bloggers – we're all doooooooooooooooooooooooomed!

Boing Boing writes UK press-regulation defines “press” so broadly as to include tweeters, Facebook users, bloggers.

It then goes on to show Schedule 4 of the draft Royal Charter which defines “relevant publisher” to include:

a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine);

The thing is, the term is only used in the body of the Royal Charter, in connection with membership of the recognition panel (see quotes at the bottom of this post).

So this means that tweeters or bloggers, or their staff, can’t serve on the recognition panel. In itself that is a bit of an anomaly, but it doesn’t mean that tweeters or bloggers are going to be taken to the cleaners.

What is more worrying is the wording of the amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill which is intended to give immunity from exemplary damages to newspapers who sign up to a self-regulatory body recognised by the recognition panel. My reasearch on this continues, because it refers to examplary damages for those not signed up to a self-regulatory body, if they are a “relevant publisher” (but I am not sure whether this bill has the same or a different definition for “relevant publisher” – presumably the same):

(3)
Where the court is not prevented from making an award of exemplary damages
by subsection (2), the court—
(a)
may make an award of exemplary damages if it considers it appropriate
to do so in all the circumstances of the case

It is all a bit of a muddle. And this Royal Charter thing is like invoking black magic. You only have to look at one of the first lines of the charter:

TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME, GREETING!

Here are the mentions of “relevant publisher” in the draft Royal Charter:

2.3. In order to ensure the independence of the Appointments Committee, a person shall be ineligible to be appointed if he:
a) is a serving editor of a publication of a relevant publisher;
b) is a relevant publisher or otherwise involved in the publication of news or current affairs in the United Kingdom;

3.3. In order to ensure the independence of the Board, a person shall be ineligible to be appointed, or to remain as, a Member of the Board if he:
a) is or has been an editor of a publication of a relevant publisher;
b) is a relevant publisher or otherwise involved in the publication of news or current affairs in the United Kingdom;

…7.3. None of the following may be a member of staff employed by the Recognition Panel or be otherwise engaged by the Recognition Panel in a similar capacity (whether on a full-time or part-time basis):
a) a relevant publisher or someone otherwise involved in the publication of news or current affairs in the United Kingdom;
b) a person who is part of the governing body of a relevant publisher;
d) a member of staff working for a Regulator or relevant publisher;

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3 thoughts on “Tweeters and bloggers – we're all doooooooooooooooooooooooomed!

  1. “It then goes on to show Schedule 4 of the draft Royal Charter which defines “relevant publisher” to include:
    a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine);”

    But a publisher has to _publish_ a website, not just post messages on a website run by someone else. Doesn’t that exclude tweeters and Facebook users?

  2. You missed Sch 4 1(a) ““Regulator” means an independent body
    formed by or on behalf of relevant publishers for the purpose of conducting regulatory activities in relation to their publications;”

    This is all far from clear – and Parliamentary scrutiny will be very limited as the legislation is being put into:
    1) the Enterprise and regulatory reform bill (Report stage in the Lords today)
    2) Crime and Courts bill (Report stage in the Commons today)

    This is no way to make serious and far reaching legislation

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