Press regulation car crash

A big part of me thinks that press regulation proposals are a disaster in the making. A small part of me hopes these proposals go through so we can see the utter balls up that follows

by Douglas Carswell MP on 18 March 2013 09:12

You'd think MPs might know better by now.

First they set up something called the Financial Service Authority, to regulate the banks. 6,000 pages of compliance later, the banks went bust.

Then they set up another FSA – the Food Standards Agency.  Horse meat systematically entered the food chain as beef.

Today MPs are deciding if they should set up a quango to oversee the press. What could possibly go wrong?

Some people have been treated abominably by the media. They deserve recompense. If and when others are unfairly treated in the future, they too need redress.

But the way to achieve that is through the courts. Rather than invent an entire new apparatus of officialdom to oversee newspapers, Brian Leveson ought perhaps to have suggested ways that ordinary folk might be allowed to seek redress through the courts. Imagine if you did not have to be a millionaire to sue a newspaper?  Perhaps you have to be a judge not to see it.

The new regulation will cover "websites containing news-related material" apparently. That means not only ones such as my own blog (and sites such as this), but the one run by your local parish council too.  And the one written by just about anyone with a blog.

We now live in a world in which millions of people publish things each day. Yet the system of regulation being proposed seems a throwback to a time when only a few newspaper editors wrote "news-related material". What is your twitter feed, if not a stream of "news-related material"?

I grew up in a central African country run by various dictators who controlled the newspapers. Perhaps that is why I find the idea of state regulation of the press in Britain so shocking.

A big part of me thinks that this is a disaster in the making. A small part of me hopes these proposals go through so we can see the utter balls up that follows.

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