Tim Toulmin: Self-regulation is the only way forward

Press Complaints Commission director Tim Toulmin insists media convergence makes the case for self-regulation stronger than before in response to Tony Blair’s suggestion that stricter regulations should be enforced.

In a speech to journalists at Reuters, the outgoing Prime Minister said that the current regulatory structure of the PCC was ‘for traditional newspaper publishing’and said that as ‘technology blurs the distinction between papers and television, it becomes increasingly irrational to have different systems of accountability.’

Blair pointed out that new European regulations could see all televisual content streamed on the internet regulated by OFCOM.

Toulmin said: ‘I don’t think people should be too alarmed about Blair’s comments, this type of analysis has been going on for some time now.

‘There is no escaping the fact that the media are converging and that clearly has a knock on effect to the type of regulation that is appropriate.

‘In fact the PCC thinks it makes the case more for our type of light touch, principals-based regulation where you work with the industry rather than impose rules. The challenges are probably more for old-fashioned, top down, statutory imposed regulation, the type traditionally concerned with television.

‘We have a very good relationship with Ofcom to talk about these things. There are already grey areas opening up in terms of online regulation but we have moved quickly to ensure the PCC’s remit is comprehensive in terms of online, audio and visual material.

‘There are on going informal conversations the PCC and Ofcom. We are very keen to ensure that the press regulation continues for the press. Clearly the press and broadcast are very different and are meant to perform different functions and I think it would be wrong to use media convergence as an excuse to introduce greater restrictions on the press.”

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