Bluff and brinkmanship over press regulation – and blogs?

You won’t find it said in the press as they are all inevitably biased as interested parties. But if most of the UK national newspapers are going to reject even a “dab” of statute in a new tougher but still “ voluntary” system of  press regulation, why didn’t they come out and say so ages ago rather than faffing about for months?

It’s left to a blog, to make the obvious point – leaving aside the one liner that blogs may somehow may be included in something or other sometime or face punitive damages.(  If Guido is ” a relevant publisher” what about Slugger? Your bank account might be safer abroad, even in Cyprus, Mick).

Ben Brogan may be right, to float the idea of the bigger press barons trying set up a regulator of their own . But all this prevarication has the smell of a forlorn hope about it. For one thing, who among the great and good outside the media would join it in defiance of united parliamentary opinion? Best to leave the challenge  to big details  like whether exemplary damages  for  non-joiners who offend  is a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights  (Isn’t it delicious btw  by the way to see the Europhobe Daily Mail making the case relying on the authority of the  loathed European Court?).  A cheaper easier system of dealing with complaints is necessary to avoid vexatious complaints that could finally see off the hard pressed  local papers.

Chris Blackhurst the editor of the  Indy may be right and call on the rest to submit. The egregious Max Mosley may be right too, that the press barons will fall into line to protect their dwindling investments.  If the press drag their feet too long, it could get ugly. Politicians might be tempted to withdraw a public interest defence from the Defamation Bill and the Tory press would scream retribution at the politicians. To coin a cliché- this one will run and run.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London