Teen magazine editors have met MPs in a bid to raise awareness of the increasing risks they face when writing about sex, writes Ruth Addicott.
Editors briefed MPs on the political changes facing the industry, including lobby efforts to amend the sexual offences bill to protect the right of agony aunts to discuss sexual issues with readers.
The bill could have implications for teen titles such as Cosmo Girl!, Bliss and Mizz if they publish relationship features that could be seen to be inciting unlawful sexual activity – even if it is as minor as “100 best kissing techniques”. There have been fears within the magazine industry that the loophole could be exploited by fanatical groups or individuals who wish to take legal action against the magazines by funding their own prosecution.
Tim Loughton MP, Conservative health and education spokesman, and Eleanor Laing, Conservative home, constitutional and legal affairs spokeswoman, were present at the lunch and said how impressed they were with the work of teen magazines in educating readers about issues such as STIs and drugs.
Hosted by the Periodical Publishers Association, the lunch also aimed to promote the Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP), the self-regulatory system set up in 1996 to ensure teen magazines publish accurate and responsible material.
On on 24 February TMAP chairman Dr Fleur Fisher and the PPA are due to meet Julie Kirkbride MP, Tory spokeswoman on culture, media and sport, to discuss the issues further.