Government agrees move to exempt blogs from press regulation regime

 

Blogs with a turnover of less than £2 million will not be subject to the new system of press regulation, the Government said today.

There would also be an exemption for a blog with fewer than 10 employees, under the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill.

The amendments, to go before MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, also exempt small companies, for whom publishing news is not the main part of their business, from the new regulatory body.

Both blogs and small businesses would have to meet both criteria in order to avoid being subject to the new rules and the threat of higher legal costs in libel and privacy claims.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We were clear in our original proposals that small-scale blogs would not be covered by the incentives to join a press self-regulator.

"The amendments we have tabled clarify the position and set out a simple and clear exemption for all small-scale blogs. The Royal Charter proposals will create a tough system of independent self-regulation of the press while protecting freedom of speech."

Before the Easter recess, the Government tabled a holding amendment to exclude "small-scale" bloggers from the new system of press regulation in order to allow a period of "reflection'' on the issue.

At the time, Justice Minister Lord McNally said there were concerns that bloggers would get caught up in laws intended to apply to larger organisations.

Under the new system of regulation, making its way through Parliament in response to Lord Justice Leveson's report in to press standards, newspapers deemed a "relevant publisher" would have to sign up to an independent regulator or face exemplary damages in defamation cases.

To allay concerns the changes could have unintended consequences for other news outlets, the Government has made a number of exemptions, including academic journals and the authors of books.

But there had been concerns the changes could hit bloggers too and prompted civil servants and ministers to spend the Easter break looking for a compromise.

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