Thursday 15 December 2011

How Lord Hunt wants to tame bloggers and online

Online publications and blogs would be regulated under radical proposals by the new chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, according to the Exaro website

Lord Hunt, PCC chairman since October, told Exaro in an interview with David Hencke: “At the moment, it is like the Wild West out there. We need to appoint a sheriff.”

His initial plan for online media is to invite bloggers who write on current affairs to volunteer to be regulated by the replacement body for the PCC.

They would be able to carry a ‘Kitemark’, showing that they abide by the new body’s code of practice. They would lose the ‘Kitemark’ if complaints against them were repeatedly upheld. But this regulatory oversight would mean bloggers having to pay a fee to the new body, which would be funded by the publications that it regulates.

Hunt said: “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.”

Plans to replace the Press Complaints Commission with a new regulator – more independent of newspapers – are to be unveiled by Hunt and presented to the Leveson Inquiry next year, according to Exaro.

In the interview, Hunt said: “I concluded that the best way forward was to recognise that the existing structure is not a regulator. I am surprised at the extent of agreement that has been reached. Even those who have called the PCC a regulator, now accept that it isn’t.”

The PCC chairman spoke to Exaro ahead of a meeting today (Thursday) of editors of national and regional newspapers – at the London head office of the Telegraph titles – to outline his proposals.

Hunt believes that the new Press regulator must remain independent of government.

Hunt is still fleshing out his plans, but expects to propose a two-tier complaints system with a much more rigorous approach to inaccurate and intrusive stories.

In the first tier, every newspaper and magazine regulated by the PCC would have an agreed procedure under which a complainant can seek redress from the publication. The publisher’s chief executive would have to take responsibility for its complaints system.

Each title would have an independent person to decide on complaints and what it should do to redress the issue. Hunt said that this would be a more independent figure than the ‘readers’ editor’ that some newspapers already have.

For those who remain unsatisfied after going through the first tier of the complaints system, they can take the matter to the new regulator.

Newspapers and magazines would have to produce an annual report of their standards of journalism under plans for a new regulatory body.
  • Lord Hunt told Newsnight last night that the PCC had never had the powers of a regulator.


Jon_S said...

I'm pleased that the kitemark idea is getting the go-ahead; it seems sensible. But some bloggers might not be able to afford the fee that has been proposed. Would there be a means by which to seek support/waive it, one wonders?

Unknown said...

Why would I want this kitemark, really? To be recognised by the laughing stock that is the PCC? No thanks.

The web belongs to us, not the regulators.

anarchic teapot said...

The PCC has been publicly shown to be an abject, toothless failure by the Leveson inquiry, so Hunt wants to regulate the amateur journalists, aka bloggers, instead?

If he wants to regulate me, he gives me a salary, a Press card, and the right to protect my sources from the police. In other words, make me a professional journalist. Bloggers are already personally accountable in law for what they write.

Matt Wardman said...

Ex-politician upbraids bloggers for not being accurate enough.

Loving it.

Anonymous said...

Totally ridiculous notion - as pointed out above all of the regulation without any safeguards. The web cannot be regulated or censored so a bit of a non-starer. This is just showing how bankrupt the PCC and its replacement is of ideas. A very dumb idea indeed.

Michael Fowke said...

The man is an absolute moron. There are millions of blogs, all doing different things. Who cares if they're accurate? I don't need to trust any blog or blogger.

Phil Brennan said...

I have to words to say to him, and they begin with an F and an O. Why? Because we bloggers are the ONLY free media left.

JD said...

Hilarious. The PCC can't control the Press.
How would it regulate blogs.
What about foreign blogs readable by UK audiences?
Lord Hunt is a buffon. Someone should regulate him!

Ron Graves said...

I suspect this is far more about making money than regulation.

Anyway, as my blog is hosted in the US, how can the PCC claim jurisdiction?

As for accuracy, the nature of my blog pretty much demands it, but the PCC needs to look to the - er - press, particularly rags like the Mail if it's so keen on accuracy, not to mention truth and honesty, all of which are in short supply at the Mail.

Liz Church said...

We had this before with Buscombe. I can't remember who said it, but it's like an MOT certificate from Arthur Daley.

sororNishi said...