The Media Reform Coalition has launched a consultation for small publishers, online journalists and bloggers in order to provide input into the final parliamentary consideration of the Crime and Courts Bill, the legislation backing the Leveson recommendations for media self-regulation.
Parliament returns after the Easter recess on 15 April 2013, and the Crime and Courts Bill will return to the House of Commons. The Bill will have to be finalised by the end of the Parliamentary session at the end of the month. The Secretary of State for DCMS, Maria Miller, has made noises about consulting with the ‘newspaper industry’ over the Easter recess, but the MRC points out that there does not appear to have been any formal attempt to engage with other kinds of news organisations.
It suggests that, ideally, a number of small publishers, online news sites and bloggers will get behind a particular proposal and lobby all three parties over the next few weeks – this is what the MRC consultation is intended to facilitate.
The MRC has produced a comprehensive document to clarify the current situation, entitled “Small publishers, online journalism and the new system of press regulation” [pdf]. This is intended to accompany the consultation.
Part 1 of the consultation asks who should be liable for exemplary damages and costs penalties while Part 2 asks who the costs protection should be available to.
The consultation can be submitted anonymously but asks respondents to identify the type of publication that they are responding on behalf of as follows:
The consultation asks about a number of options for narrowing the definition of “relevant publisher” in the Crime and Courts Bill, in particular
- Excluding “non-profit organisations” (that is bodies which do not carry on business with a view to profit, whether or not they actually make a profit)
- Small companies, as defined by the Companies Act
- Any organisation with a turnover less that the VAT registration threshold (currently £77,000 a year)
- Any organisation with a turnover less than a multiple of the VAT registration threshold – say 3x or 5x £77,000.
The consultation also asks whether the costs benefits of joining a recognised self-regulator should be available to anyone who joins, regardless of whether they are a “relevant publisher”.
It also asks whether respondents would join an affordable regulator if it made costs protection available and if it was specifically designed for small organisations.
The consultation, powered by Survey Monkey, can be accessed by clicking on this link.
The responses to the consultation will be used to provide the political parties with input on the clauses going through Parliament after the Easter recess that will affect small news organisations.
Inforrm has responded to the consultation and we urge all our readers who blog or run other small publications to do so as well