Monday, November 16, 2009

PCC Chairwoman Wants to Regulate Blogs!

Ian Burrell, who edits The Independent's Media Pages, has a very disturbing blogpost about the ambition of the Press Complaints Commission to regulate blogs. The new chairman of the PCC, Baroness Buscombe, seems to have gone native already and wants her empire to grow ever larger.
She wants to examine the possibility that the PCC's role should be extended to cover the blogosphere, which is becoming an increasing source of breaking news and boasts some of the media's highest-profile commentators, such as the political bloggers Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Do readers of such sites, and people mentioned on them, deserve the same rights of redress that the PCC offers in respect of newspapers and their sites?

"Some of the bloggers are now creating their own ecosystems which are quite sophisticated," Baroness Buscombe told me. "Is the reader of those blogs assuming that it's news, and is [the blogosphere] the new newspapers? It's a very interesting area and quite challenging."

She said that after a review of the governance structures of the PCC, she would want the organisation to "consider" whether it should seek to extend its remit to the blogosphere, a process that would involve discussion with the press industry, the public and bloggers (who would presumably have to volunteer to come beneath the PCC's umbrella).

The PCC regulates the press online as well as in print, and its remit also extends to the Sun's radio operation, SunTalk.

Blogging, with its tradition of being free and unregulated, sees itself as very different. But is it really?
Er, yes it is. We might write the same bollocks as newspaper journalists, but we don't get paid for it, for a start. Many of us do not see ourselves as primarily news outlets, either. I'd estimate that ninety per cent of my content could loosely be described as comment.

I see absolutely no need for independently operated blogs to be regulated by the PCC or indeed anyone else. If they want to propose a voluntary system of regulation, fine. But the day they try to mandate it is the day I will give up blogging.

Or have I just given them an incentive to do just that?!

39 comments:

Jimmy said...

I don't see the problem. If they're as effective with bloggers as they are with newspapers you won't even notice.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

The Baroness is free to come and suck my balls if she thinks she's hard enough.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

wv "cackilly" ... how Labour does everything.

Plato said...

This reminds me of another minister advocating the same thing - they are just sore losers who want to shut down their detractors because it dosen't suit them.

Since Labour has a handful of actual parliamentary days left and the PCC has nothing but guidelines - it's all puff and nonsense.

Chris said...

A tenner says she'll be 'blogged into' an early resignation or a backtracking apology.

DeeDee99 said...

The Establishment is running scared. They don't like independent thought and comment - particularly when it is speaking directly to the 'peasants' who pay their wages. They like to be in complete control of the 'news' and information disseminated to them.

Start preparing for a fight!

aljahom said...

A Tory peer no less, Iain.

Trying to keep that quiet?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peta_Buscombe,_Baroness_Buscombe

Lord Lavendon said...

Well Iain, what you write is mostly opinion and comment because it is your diary, which you happen to share with us and allow us (if we are not rude etc) to comment upon.

I don't have a huge readership like your good self, with my blog, it is just a hobby and a pastime to put thoughts down, but if they try and control blogging i'm out of it as I couldn't afford their regulations.

I will make a political point here, regulation (or control) has been new labour's answer to everything, so I am not suprised that this culture has oozed into every quango in operation. If you don't control it, regulate it and therefore control it is their answer.

Jabba the Cat said...

Well, she can stick that where the sun does not shine...

Man in a Shed said...

Could there be a conflict of interest here?

Personally I won't be submitting to any MSM inspired controls.

The law of the land is quite sufficient.

IanVisits said...

The PCC is largely toothless though, so they can do whatever they like - everyone ignores them.

Stephen said...

Well they're so completely, demonstrably incompetent and probably corrupt when it comes to regulating the big boys in the gutter press maybe they feel the need to push somebody around.

Regulating against what though I wonder?

Surely the point of most blogs is to distort and be selective with the facts, to be childishly partisan, intellectually less than honest, and only commented on by the housebound and the deranged.

Which bit would they regulate?

Cogito Dexter said...

The PCC stands no more chance of regulating blogs than the Post Office did when it suggested regulating (and taxing) emails in the late '90s. It seems that both organisations spectacularly didn't GET the Internet!

My blog (unregulated except my my own taste): http://cogitodexter.wordpress.com

Curmudgeon said...

And how do you actually define a blog in the first place?

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

She can take the rough end of a pineapple and shove it up her arse.

Road_Hog said...

She obviously doesn't understand the concept of blogging, because if she did, she'd know that she couldn't control it.

However, the establishment is keen to control blogging, they are uncomfortable with its ability to pass on information without censorship and have seen the momentum it is gathering.

This will fail, but expect something else to come along, there will be some sort of legislation trying to curtail blogging and both NuLabour & BluLabour will be united on this front.

Frugal Dougal said...

I blog to get comment onto the web, and also news from Cambridge and elsewhere that's not being covered for various reasons. I'd hope that people sophisticated enough to read blogs structured like Iain's, nine and meny others are able to tell the difference.

heckmonwyke said...

I knew it, as we run up to the election and politicians see how effective this medium is re the little bit of fun with mr brown on twitter yesterday.They will want to control it as they do all the other outlets.I think it started with meddlesomes attack on "illegal"downloading.

neil craig said...

I put in a complaint to the PCC over the Guardian saying that anybody who didn't support the Bosnian Moslems was anti-Semitic (really). They said that, while it was an obvious lie (Izetbegovic their leader, while useful to us, was an unrepent Nazi committed to the genocide of all non-Moslems, which includes Jews) it counted not as news but as opinion. I pointed out that the PCC's code said that that defence only counted if the article "is clearly labelled as opinion" which this wasn't. They said tough.

This was the same PCC whose boss's other lucrative job was to say that Enron's accounts were honest.

Apart from the point this makes vis a vis Iain's point on blogs being largely opinion I hope nobody will suggest that anybody on the PCC, while representing the highest ethical standards the Press maintain, is ever, under any circumstances, fit to express opinions about bloggers.

Stepney said...

Free speech?

Solutions*:

a) ban it
b) tax it
c) regulate it.

* From the Big Book of Labour Things To Do To Things We Don't Like.**

Kiss my shorts.

davidncl said...

The truth is that like or not censorship is comming. Call it the fairness doctrine or regulating hate speech. The statist left will shut the deniers/hate spewers down.

The lights will go out.

Largely because the right don't realise how serious or desperate the fight is. That's why we have iDave.

Cicero said...

So even though we are covered by libel laws we still need "regulating"... err no thank you

True Belle said...

Baroness Buscombe is a Conservative member of the House of Lords, so she is a very Tory prissy missy, isn't she?

"Is the reader of those blogs assuming that it's news, and is [the blogosphere] the new newspapers? It's a very interesting area and quite challenging."

Do we assume that everything we read /hear about the contents of the Sun/ Mirror /Mail/Hello/blahh de blah is news?

Why do these boring post menopausal women tangle their brains with such convoluted nonsense.

Go ride a bike, lady.

Oliver Drew said...

And just how does she propose to carry out this regulation? One of the major anomolies of the internet is that it is borderless, with sites that are hosted from all over the globe seamlessly.

So if I were, as a British citizen, to host my blog on a foreign server, how would that affect this "regulation"?

It should not, and in all likelyhood will not, happen.

Twig said...

Is this a sign of things to come from Blue Labour ?

Unsworth said...

If this woman cannot see the difference then she's in the wrong job.

Hawkeye said...

My blogs (like Iain's) are hosted in California and are therefore outside the UK? What does the Baroness propose to do about that?

WTF is it with this country? Do we all have to have criminal records? We have the blog sh*t, on the radio they want to convict "violent men who we cannot convict", men are suspected of being padeophiles, wife-beaters, child molesters and perverts.

This country has become (in regulatory & legal senses) a vile, stinking cesspit of iniquity, unfairness and small minded bile run by petty and incompetent dictators and their hangers-on.

If I had a wall to put them up against, I'd start advertising for the firing squad.

dazmando said...

Yeah my blog is also US hosted, ha this is madness, next the PCC will step in when I have a conversation down the pub. Utter maddness.

Please Tories when you get in put an end to this crazy over protective government and the regulators. bash some bloody sence into them, how about some common sence.

Richard Baron said...

I challenge David Cameron to denounce this idea, not once he has carefully considered the arguments and taken advice, but now.

peter_dtm said...

Ian

Should such an attempt on our freedoms be made you have a clear duty to CARRY ON BLOGGING - or are you just a pretend conservative ?

Matthew Cain said...

Storm in a teacup. The PCC has no power to regulate blogs - or even to mandate that newspapers are regulated.

Its constitution gives it assumed control over any newspaper, magazine or periodical in the country - but it frequently doesn't do anything about publications not in its purview. Why would this be any different?

Roger Thornhill said...

If Buscombe finds it "challenging" then maybe the problem lies in the appointment, not the blogosphere.

Ignorance->fear->hate->violence

We are art DEFGIT2 right now. Prepare for DEFGIT3.

Madasafish said...

The Baroness obviously has too many staff doing nothing so a 20% budget cut is needed...

beness said...

I seem to remember Hazel (here I've signed the cheque) Blears attacking the blogosphere earlier in the year. she was not happy about public opinion having an affect on policies.

That's all I needed to know.

Osama the Nazarene said...

A weak response Iain. You should not give up but move your blog to servers offshore. Like Guido did.

He invited Carter-Ruck to serve notice on him in the Caymans or some such far off place.

Though I do agree with Jimmy for once.

Steve Tierney said...

Over my dead body, frankly.

zeno said...

Two of my favourite internet quotes for the Baroness:

"Any content-based regulation of the Internet, no matter how benign the purpose, could burn the global village to roast the pig."
-- U.S. District Judge S. Dalzell in a 1996 CDA opinion

"The internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it." -- John Gilmore

She might also reflect on the history of the internet, how it grew out of the DoD's ARPANET project, and how resistance to censorship was built in from the beginning. Even the most comprehensive censorship - like China's Great Firewall - has holes in it that are easy enough to find and get through.

Croydonian said...

Land grabbing by regulators is right up there with dog bites man, isn't it?

heckmonwyke said...

The mainstream media,tv/radio.publications,because they employ relitivly small numbers of people,can be partialy controled by politicians.Through patronage,selective leaks old pals together but the new media internet is a problem, because its so easy for anybody,everybody to access and use to inform annoy interest amuse. I will never write for a newspaper probarly never write a letter to a paper,but can post my thoughts,opinions, instantly.Thats why politicians our rulers are so worried about it and with the coming general election are afraid it could influence the result in a unexpected way.So i think they will be more and more eager to get some control over it and censorship?