As part of its industry consultation, the Press Standards Board of Finance Ltd (PressBoF) has decided that local authority publications should not be brought within the remit of the Press the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
“It has decided against doing so on the basis that such publications tend to be marketing material,” the board announced today.
PressBoF, independent of the PCC, is responsible for raising a levy on the newspaper and magazine industry to finance the Commission. Its industry consultation also decided that online-only publications – mainly magazine sites – should come under the PCC’s remit.
“It’s one of those things, we’re conscious there are a reasonable number of local authority publications out there,” PressBoF secretary, Jim Raeburn told Journalism.co.uk. “Should they be under umbrella of PCC or not?” The board’s decision, he said, was no.
PressBoF, independent of the PCC, is responsible for raising a levy on the newspaper and magazine industry to finance the Commission.
In late November, Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, told the House of Commons culture media and sport select committee that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has no remit on authority publications:
“This is a lacuna. If this is a serious issue from the perspective of (a) the use of taxpayers’ money and (b) the consequences for independent journalism in any given locality, I think it is something that Parliament has to decide what it wants to do about.
“Either the government needs to give some guidance, or give somebody else the responsibility to look at it, but at the moment, we [Ofcom] certainly do not, and nor do the OFT.”
Stewart Purvis, content regulation partner for Ofcom, who was also giving evidence, said: “I just feel there is a missing area, which is the regulation, if that is the right word, of what local authorities do and do not do.
“I am reminded of the case of the former Mayor of London who, if I remember, got into trouble with some supervisory body over what he should or should not have said to an Evening Standard reporter.”