PCC extends remit to cover online-only publications

The remit of the Press Complaints Commission is to be extended so that online-only publications can be covered by its voluntary code of practise.

The Press Standards Board of Finance, the body that collects funding for the PCC from publishers and sets its remit, said today that following an industry-wide consultation the type of titles covered by the industry watchdog would be increased.

The move has been made to recognise how magazine publishers, in particular, are increasingly turning to the web to launch new small niche titles and broad appeal larger sites.

PressBoF also considered whether local authority publications should be brought within the remit of the PCC. However, it decided against doing so after ruling that such publications tend to be “marketing material” rather than journalistic enterprises.

Changing the PCC’s remit could benefit firms like specialist magazine publisher Future Media, which has been a leading force in developing web-only titles. In the last 18 months it has launched four web-only “radar” titles: Photoradar, MusicRadar, TechRadar and GamesRadar.

Guy Black, chairman of PressBoF, said: “The internet is an increasingly important platform for publishers to reach consumers.

“While online versions of newspapers and magazines available in printed form come within the remit of the PCC, there is a gap to the extent that online-only publications do not.

“This decision is a logical development in self-regulation, recognising the moves in the magazine sector towards online-only titles, and underlines the effectiveness of our system.”

The extension was agreed on the basis that web-only publications must be recognisable as UK based newspapers or magazines which, if in printed form, would come within the jurisdiction of the PCC.

Baroness Buscombe, chairman of the PCC, welcomed the extension of her organisation’s coverage, saying the commission needed the freedom to “develop rapidly to meet the challenges and the opportunities presented by media convergence.”

For the PCC it to cover any new titles under its remit publishers and editors must subscribe to the editors’ code of practice and agree to pay PressBoF a registration fees.

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