Lords to vote on regulating news websites

BLOGS, community news websites, and online political campaigns could fall within the remit of the new press regulator unless the House of Lords votes to amend legislation later tonight.

Campaigners have attacked the phrasing of the proposed law, which they say will see almost every publisher – even if they are exclusively online – fall under the remit of the new media watchdog.

Under the proposed system, produced in response to the Leveson inquiry, publishers who do not sign up to the regulator face exemplary damages if they lose a libel case.

Almost all national newspapers have now expressed concern that the system amounts to state regulation of the press and raised fears about the burden it places on the industry.

Nick Pickles, director of anti-regulation lobby group Big Brother Watch, told City A.M.: “Deals cobbled together at 2am are not the way to draft good legislation and the fact that the current proposals have united Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch in criticising them should be clear evidence that all is not well.”

“With or without protection for small groups and blogs, freedom of the press is not compatible with political oversight and we will be urging all media outlets to boycott the proposed regulator.”