All publications are eligible for membership of and representation by, the Commission. All publications registered with the Commission would be eligible for VAT exemption. Any organisation withdrawing from the Commission would lose their VAT exemption.So far, so carrot and stick. But more importantly:
Organisations with a turnover of less than £50,000 (i.e. not VAT registered) would be eligible for free associate membership of the Commission. They would be able to make use of the Ombudsman’s services and their members would be eligible to stand for tribunal panels and as members of the commission board.The VAT threshold has now risen to £77,000, but the principle remains the same. In our suggestion, news organisations subsidised via a VAT exemption would in turn subsidise protection for smaller organisations. In the fast-moving whirl of political events we can’t expect our perfect solution to be the one that ends up chosen, but the point is simple: there is a very effective way to allow small publications to enjoy the protection of a regulator, and there is already a simple framework for distinguishing ‘small’ from ‘big. Left Foot Forward has suggested a number of similar alternatives, including:
Hacked Off backs amendments to crown & courts bill to exclude all non-profit publishers bloggers from statute underpinning Royal Charter. — Patrick Wintour (@patrickwintour) March 22, 2013
Hacked Off has written to the three main political parties proposing a new amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill to exclude all non-profit publishers from the statute underpinning the Royal Charter for press self-regulation. [HO]Whatever happens, we don’t do bloggers any favours if we pretend that this was all a foregone conclusion, that this is just what happens when the clunking fist of government tries to regulate the internet. We need any new regulators and the legal framework which supports them to specifically distinguish small and nonprofit news outlets from their bigger brethren, whose lobbying power and vast financial reserves allowed phone hacking to go unchecked for so long – and we must ensure they are allowed to enjoy the protections that Fleet Street has been fighting so hard to reject.