NMA To Scrutinise Online Safety Bill Journalistic Exemptions

The News Media Association has welcomed efforts in the Online Safety Bill to exempt journalistic content from the new regime to tackle online harms which demonstrates significant progress since the Government’s initial consultation two years ago.  

The new regime, which is subject to pre legislative scrutiny, contains clear exemptions for content on news publishers’ own websites and for comments made by readers on publishers’ websites; two key points made to Government by the NMA.

The NMA also welcomes the Bill’s definition of news content which appears to be broad.  

The NMA will now scrutinise and consult with members on the proposed measures to tackle journalistic content on third party platforms.

The Bill proposes that the largest social platforms will have a statutory duty to safeguard UK users’ access to journalistic content shared on their platforms, meaning platforms will have to consider the importance of journalism when undertaking content moderation.

A “fast-track appeals process” for journalists’ removed content, will be put in place, with platforms ultimately accountable to Ofcom under the new regime.

Concerns have been raised that this will give the platforms, and Ofcom, enormous power in moderating lawful journalistic content. Furthermore, critics of this element of the Bill have pointed out that news has a very short shelf life and no appeals process could ever operate effectively to account for this.

The NMA will continue to monitor developments in all areas relevant to news media following the Queen’s Speech earlier this week.

The NMA will continue to make representations against the transparency issues with the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill and monitor open justice aspects of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, draft Victims Bill and Judicial Review Bill and it will also continue to keep under review Criminal Justice Catch-up and Recovery Plan for the same. 

The NMA will consider freedom of speech implication of the Counter-State Threats Bill, Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill and it will also scrutinise the Electoral Integrity Bill and the other remaining Bill, for any unintended impact upon news publishers. 

The NMA will consider the Health and Care provisions banning junk food adverts pre-9pm watershed on TV and a total ban online to which the NMA is opposed.  The NMA will continue to push for a workable industry solution.