Online Regulation

Tony Blair is taking his final pot shots before leaving office in a fortnight. He unloaded on the media today.

What worries him most is the online media. He wants a new online journalism regulator.  He said it in such a logical way. Currently the newspapers have the PCC and the broadcasters have OFCOM. As Tony said, “As the technology blurs the distinction between papers and television, it becomes increasingly irrational to have different systems of accountability based on technology that no longer can be differentiated in the old way.” He called online reporting “more pernicious and less balanced”.

The problem is that the newspapers are owned by huge media companies. Likewise, the broadcasters are huge organisations. Once it covers online journalism, every blogger becomes subject to Government regulation.

Once Government regulation steps in, freedom of the cyberpress is in danger. It is not big media giants that will be stepped on – the Government has to grovel at their feet to assure that they are favourably reported. For the small fry, the protection is not there. For a Government that has shown increasing tendency toward totalitarianism with an emphasis on the restriction of, and tailoring of, information, the temptation to squash objectionable independent reporting and commentating may prove too strong.