Press regulation is taking an awfully long time. Lord Justice Leveson reported last November and, after an initial spurt of activity when 2013 was young, everything’s gone still as the Privy Council – really just another word for the cabinet – mulls over two competing draft Royal Charters, at length. We may know later this year whether the press’s draft or that agreed by the main political parties will be adopted, or if there’ll be some fudge. But in the meantime, the delay gives us time to look at what the new legislation and the competing Royal Charters would achieve.
The system will have three building blocks: a Royal Charter to underpin a regulator, and two pieces of legislation: the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which further underpins the Royal Charter, and the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which provides for the press to set up a self-regulator.
If either Royal Charter ends up being adopted, and if a press self-regulator is recognised as meeting the recognition criteria, then it’s the Crime and Courts Act 2013 that will give individual publishers a reason to want to sign up to be regulated by it – not just “traditional” news publishers but any relevant website or blogger, like you and me.