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Credit: By Julo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Institute for Public Policy Research today published a report calling for the establishment of independent, platform-neutral, content-led regulation, with broadcast regulator Ofcom acting as "the backstop authority".

In its report, Life after Leveson: The challenge to strengthen Britain’s diverse and vibrant media, author Nigel Warner calls for any new regulatory system, as has been considered by Lord Justice Leveson, to "be seen in light of the digital convergence which is uniting text, audio and video content onto the same platforms".

"Continuing to treat media as existing in discrete markets with regard to competition and content regulation risks inhibiting adaptation and growth in the sector," Warner warns.

"Any new approach to regulation must recognise the new relationships that exist between all forms of digital media competing in the same space," he adds in the report.

"Otherwise we risk building a whole edifice around one type of media – print – that leaves the long-established media groups hamstrung economically in competition with newer media forms.

"It also risks creating a regulatory framework that is out of date before it even comes into effect."

Lord Justice Leveson is due to publish his own report on Thursday (29 November).

In today's IPPR report Warner recommends a "platform-neutral approach to media regulation", with an independent regulator called the News Publishing Authority, instead of the Press Complaints Commission, featuring a "statutory back-up from Ofcom".

The think tank calls for a system featuring four independent authorities in total: for licensed news content (broadcasters), unlicensed news publishing, non-news content and advertising.

"Each of the new authorities would be independent, but involve industry and consumer representation in developing standards and overseeing day-to-day operations," Warner adds.

Explaining the Ofcom back-up further, Warner explains that "each new body would operate at arm’s length from Ofcom" but that it could work as a "backstop authority to each, with functions including hearing appeals, approving draft standards codes and giving support for sanctions".

Also today, campaigning organisation Index on Censorship has issued "a warning" ahead of Lord Justice Leveson's report, in which it says it "believes that statutory regulation of the press – including statutory underpinning of an independent regulator – would seriously damage free expression in the UK".

Earlier this month the National Union of Journalists reaffirmed its support for regulation "underpinned by statute", prompting a mixed reaction online at the time.

And in a Times editorial today editor James Harding gave his backing to a "system of independent regulation with a judicial, but not a statutory, backstop".

Here is a link to past coverage from
which has touched on the topic of press regulation, proposed models and resulting debates.

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