Finally, a media regulator for Banana Watch

I have not, in the hour or so since I began looking at the Finkelstein Independent Media Inquiry‘s 500 page report, fully digested it.

But like the bloggers it now seeks to regulate, that doesn’t mean that I lack a point of view. And it’s this.

Any person who seeks to regulate the internet, and then refers to hits, should immediately be disqualified from further comment as their digital knowledge is ten years out of date.

This for me, is a key paragraph of what what Ray Finkelstein had to say in the recommendations of the Finkelstein Media Inquiry:

“The second change arises from the fact that there are many newsletter publishers and bloggers, although no longer part of the ‘lonely pamphleteer’ tradition, who offer up-to-date reflections on current affairs. Quite a number have a very small audience. There are practical reasons for excluding from the definition of ‘news media’ publishers who do not have a sufficiently large audience. If a publisher distributes more than 3000 copies of print per issue or a news internet site has a minimum of 15 000 hits per annum it should be subject to the jurisdiction of the News Media Council, but not otherwise. These numbers are arbitrary, but a line must be drawn somewhere.”

Yes indeed. A line must be drawn. Let’s assume that Finkelstein actually means page views rather than hits (technically, a single page will consist of a lot of hits as each hit is a single request for a file to a web server).

15000 page views equates to less than 300 per week.

So what would you class as “an up to date reflection on current affairs’? Would you include satirical sites written in that style, if they were based on facts? You’d have to.

Banana WatchIf so, then allow me to point you to Banana Watch. It’s the work of my colleague Colin Delaney, in which he amuses himself by publishing photographs of discarded banana peels (well, everybody needs to have a hobby).

Colin tells me that in the last week, he’s had 323 page views.

Take a read – Banana Watch is funnier than it sounds. But it also falls within Finkelstein’s criteria of the type of site that will be regulated in his new vision.

As indeed, thousands of other sites will be. Anyone who writes regularly about current events and had more than a handful of friends following them could well fall under the remit of the proposed super regulator.

If this part if the inquiry is so badly thought out, I already doubt that the rest will be any better.

Tim Burrowes


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