OSB: New Clause To Protect Journalistic Content Online

MPs voiced their commitment to safeguarding a free press in the UK, after a new clause in the Bill was passed providing protections for journalistic content online during the report stage of the Online Safety Bill.

Clause 19, now in the Bill, provides much-needed protections for recognised news publisher content. The NMA has repeatedly urged Government to safeguard journalistic content online and welcomes these amendments to the Bill. 

Owen Meredith, NMA chief executive, called the amendments “essential to protect media freedom” and that the Bill would help to “tackle the flood of mis and dis information online.”

During the debate, Damian Collins MP, online safety minister at DCMS, said: “I now want to talk about journalism and the role of the news media in the online world, which is a very important part of this Bill. The Government are committed to defending the invaluable role of a free media.

“Online safety legislation must protect the vital role of the press in providing people with reliable and accurate sources of information. Companies must therefore put in place protections for journalistic content.”

Mr Collins continued: “The Bill already excludes comments sections on news publishers’ sites from the Bill’s safety duties. These comments are crucial for enabling reader engagement with the news and encouraging public debate, as well as for the sustainability of the news media.

“We have tabled a series of amendments to strengthen these protections, reflecting the Government’s commitment to media freedom.”

Chris Philp MP welcomed the “special protection” afforded to safeguarding press freedom which was “critical”, he said: “I certainly welcome new clause 19, which gives specific protection to content generated by news media publishers by ensuring that there is a right of appeal before it can be removed.”

This follows reports that ministers have delayed plans to pass the Bill next week amidst the Conservative leadership race and that it will be picked up again in September.