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Driving small publishers out of business – I think that is the intention

Just to weigh in with my tuppence on the UK attempt to regulate the media, which is proving to be grimly fascinating in the manner of a slow-motion car accident, this item by the Guardian newspaper points out that the local UK media, such as regional newspapers and the like, could be crippled by the prospect of “exemplary” damages and a cumbersome complaints procedure.

It is, I suppose, a bit late in the day for a leftist newspaper such as the Guardian to notice that heavy regulatory moves weigh particularly on smaller firms. That sometimes is the point – so that big firms can flourish. Notice how bigger firms tend to be more pro-European Union than smaller ones, for example.

In the UK’s financial sector, the wealth advisory industry has been put under what is called the “Retail Distribution Review”, which is designed to stamp out use of commission on sales and force up standards for advisors. A result has been that hundreds of advisors have gone out of business, or been forced to sell their firms to rivals, and so forth. The cost of purchasing financial advice has risen, putting it out of reach of often the very people who need it the most. Result!

There comes a point where one grows weary of fighting against this period of sustained lunacy. When an entire political establishment, such as the current one in the UK, feels determined to lash out, the results are terrible. Eventually, one hopes, this nonsense might get overturned, as may happen as court cases concerning the press regulation show it to be the pile of dog-mess that it is. Nick Cohen explains what a legal minefield this will be.

There appears to be no clear idea of what sort of internet-based publications will be affected. I suspect that those organisations that are not already hosted outside the UK will move, as will some of the people involved. The UK government has, along with the the opposition side, just given another reason for anyone with a love of liberty to get out of here while they still can.  People overseas have noticed what a joke the UK is becoming on this issue. Let’s hope it doesn’t give Mr Obama ideas.

11 comments to Driving small publishers out of business – I think that is the intention

  • RogerC

    It’s an unhappy side effect that efforts to control the press by regulation will hand a competitive advantage to the bigger publications first, then gradually bring them under government control second. The net effect of this is that some portions of that same press may shortsightedly favour such regulation to begin with, as it puts pressure on their smaller rivals.

    While I usually subscribe to the idea that one should never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence, I do wonder, in my darker moments, whether someone deep in the bowels of government doesn’t understand this all too well.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I was amused to hear that even the Kremlin run Russia Today criticised the new “regulator” as a “threat to press freedom”.

    When one of the most unfree presses in the world puts the boot in over your lack of freedom, you know you’ve done something bad. In RT’s defence though, with every topic except Putin and Israel they seem to be nothing but professional and impartial – which is already more than can be said for the BBC.

  • Laird

    I wouldn’t worry too much about “giving Mr. Obama ideas”. I can assure you that he already has those ideas, and indeed has had them for a very long time. However, there’s nothing he can do to implement them. Even our overly-compliant (if not outright enabling) federal courts are very protective of the First Amendment (it’s just about the only one they like), as is the citizenry as a whole. Our belief in a free press predates the nation itself, going back to the Peter Zenger trial in the 17th century. Our mainstream press may have been coopted (even corrupted) by the Progressive Movement, but it remains jealous of its own perogatives. That’s not going to change any time soon.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    March 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Our belief in a free press predates the nation itself, going back to the Peter Zenger trial in the 17th century.

    I should note, though, that the Zenger trial was decided by jury nullification of a law which Zenger was clearly guilty of breaking. One wonders how that would work out today.

  • States love a few Big Businesses but hate lots of small ones… in essence, if there are more people who actually matter in an industry than can fit around a dinner table with the appropriate Government Minister, then clearly that is a sector that cannot be controlled by the state. And that is intolerable.

    And of course many Big Businesses also rather like those sort of relationships as a few large competitors with a similar size-to-brain ratio as themselves are much preferred to a whole bunch of innovative small folk who names they don’t even know and who might actually start doing things they did not expect to have to deal with.

  • Laird

    That is certainly true, PFP, but I don’t think it’s particularly relevant. At the time there was no “freedom of the press”; the Zenger jury basically invented the concept (and helped along jury nullification, too, as a side benefit). Now it’s enshrined in the First Amendment with two centuries of Supreme Court jurisprudence backing it up. That’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

  • jdgalt

    It already has. Probably the best thing this President has done in office was to sign the bill exempting Americans from libel judgments rendered in places like Britain.

  • I am watching your loss of freedom of the press with the same slow-mo car crash sensation that you are no doubt watching (if you are aware) of our own train wreck of a bill which just got signed into law today in Colorado, whereby gun magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition, or *capable of being modified to do so*, become illegal to purchase or transfer after July 1. This means virtually *every* magazine falls under this restriction. I am sure you can find plenty of discussion about it. One company in Colorado is not taking this gracefully, and has very deliberately and effectively been waging a campaign to supply Coloradans with as many high capacity magazines as they can manufacture before the law activates. They have adopted a Berlin Airdrop meme, and it has been wildly successful; the company is reporting that they have been shipping tens of thousands of magazines to Colorado residents since the start of this fiasco. I would urge my friends across the pond to adopt a similar activist spirit and punch your MPs where it hurts, repeatedly. Here’s a campaign poster from our own Magpul: Boulder Airlift

  • Paul Marks

    Even Comrade Roy Greenslade (of academia, the Guardian, and the BBC) hints at the problem of cost – but he does not think it is very important.

    As for small companies being hit more than big ones – at first that will be true (yes). But eventually even big companies will be hit – and hit hard.

    Till they just follow the establishment line (in everything).

    This, of course, is the intention…..

    As for Colorado……

    The rights of (STATE) “Gay Marriage” is sacred (private ceronomies are not enough – it must be officially recognised, by everyone or to court you will be taken………).

    I have asked a thousand times why a private ceremony is not enough (why must the STATE be involved? and why must there be FORCED “recognision”?), but it is a sacred “right”, so I do not get an answer.

    But the right of child not to be raped?

    Not important – a couple of years prison then probation.

    After all child rapists can not help it (no such thing as free will) it is a mental condition…… (sign on for the “science” of Vatican II here….either genetics or “victim of society”, a human is just the result of genetics and environment, nothing else…..).

    Therefore the child rapists are the “true” victims.

    Higher spending.

    Higher taxes.

    Both on the way.

    “Society” (the STATE) must give everyone everything.

    And “Gun Control” is here to (“capable of being modefied to….” covers viturally everything).

    Welcome to the new “liberal” Colorado – Comrade Barack Obama supporting Colorado.

    And it has hardly started yet……..

    This is the Guardian newspapaper.

    This is the “social justice” agenda.

    Let them do it – and they will do it.

    Take your firearms.

    Take your money.

    Censor dissent.

    Rape your children.

    For example, the egalitarian movement that hit the Persian Empire a few years before the Islamic conquest (and fatally weakened it by Civil War) did not just hold that all goods should be held in common – all women and children were to be held in common also.

    There is no limit on what they will do.

    If you let them.

    These matters are not new – they are old.

    Very old.

    As old as the being that Saul Alinsky dedicated “Rules for Radicals” to.