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Press Regulation

There is some confusion about the Royal Charter rules as agreed yesterday. My primary concern is to stop politicians controlling the media. The underlying problem with a Royal Charter is that normally this would be subject to modification by the government. The changes in the House of Lords to the Enterprise Bill mean that any industrial royal charter can only be modified in accordance with its terms. Hence the Royal Charter is no longer the creature of government nor it it a creature of parliament. It will be difficult to make any contentious changes because it has essentially been frozen, but that has the advantage that it keeps the politicians away from controlling what happens.

There are then the questions as to the pressures on the newspapers to join such a scheme. The final draft of the clause about exemplary damages (21a) to my reading of it merely made it less likely that scheme members would face exemplary damages. It does not to my reading increase the likelihood of facing exemplary damages beyond where they are at the moment. There was not a division on the clause relating to the claiming of costs (I think 27a).

My perception is that these changes encourage newspapers and others to use a regulatory arbitration to resolve disputes rather than litigation without heavily punishing those who don't.

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