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Life after Leveson: The challenge to strengthen Britain’s diverse and vibrant media

culture, fairness, media, science and technology

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Author(s):  Nigel Warner
Published date:  27 Nov 2012
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This report calls for a new approach to media regulation in light of the proceedings of the Leveson inquiry. It recommends a light-touch and platform-neutral system of regulation to replace the plethora of bodies currently responsible for oversight of the system, providing clarity for media producers and consumers alike.

The 2011 crisis in the print media calls for a new system of press regulation, but this must be seen in light of the digital convergence which is uniting text, audio and video content onto the same platforms. Continuing to treat media as existing in discrete markets with regard to competition and content regulation risks inhibiting adaptation and growth in the sector.

The report recommends:

  • a new, platform-neutral approach to media regulation
  • a new, independent regulator for the press – the News Publishing Authority – with statutory back-up from Ofcom
  • an end to the quasi-judicial role for the secretary of state over media mergers
  • enhanced external oversight for the BBC, balanced with greater security over the licence fee.

It argues that this new approach would deliver more consistent standards across all media, with more freedom for media companies to innovate and develop new business models.

Simply applying tougher regulation to the printed media will further undermine its economic position. The report says the polarised debate around statutory or non-statutory regulation is out of date and that a new approach is needed for all media – print, broadcast and online – with independent regulation as standard and a single statutory backstop for all. The four independent authorities would focus on:

  • licensed news content (broadcasters)
  • unlicensed news publishing
  • non-news content
  • advertising
 
 

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Nigel Warner, Associate Fellow