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Britain passes press regulation, media publishes its reservations

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   March 19, 2013 at 8:08 AM   |   Comments

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March 19 (UPI) -- British politicians came to an agreement to create a regulatory watchdog to monitor the media. Under the new rules, "relevant publishers" could face high fines for libel, and damages can be imposed on publishers who don't sign up with the new regulatory body.

While most people agree on new regulation in light of the Press Complaints Commission's failure to investigate recent hacking scandals, bribery and media improprieties, some believe the current deal goes too far in limiting free speech.

Former Editor of the British tabloid newspaper "The Sun" Kelvin Mackenzie leaves the Royal Courts of Justice after giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry in London on January 09 2012. The Leveson Inquiry looked into the standards of the British Press and phone hacking practices which forced the closure of the "News of the World." (File/UPI/Hugo Philpott)
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Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the "publisher would have to meet the three tests of whether the publication is publishing news-related material in the course of a business, whether their material is written by a range of authors – this would exclude a one-man band or a single blogger – and whether that material is subject to editorial control."

Still, some blogs have multiple authors, report news and generate revenue, making them "relevant publishers," under the law. "This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use," said Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship. She told The Guardian thousands of smaller websites could fall under the definition of a "relevant publisher."

Harry Cole, a blogger at Guido Fawkes, said during a BBC Radio 4 interview, "I don't see I should join a regulator. This country has had a free press for the last 300 years, that has been irreverent and rude as my website is and holding public officials to account."

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