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Regulation of the Times
Livingstone and Lunt
The regulation of the UK press exemplifies what Livingstone and Lunt would call a ‘consumer-based’ regulatory approach. Officially regulated by the independent print regulator IPSO, the Times is potentially subject to fines of up to £1 million if it contravenes IPSO’s regulatory code.
In reality, IPSO has never issued any financial penalties and encourages newspapers to self-regulate. IPSO’s regulatory code protects, in the main, vulnerable members of society and gives advisory guidance relating to accuracy, privacy, harassment, contempt of court and reporting that involves vulnerable subjects.
We might argue that the regulation of the Times is more firmly directed by audience and advertiser based concerns: its content is shaped in a way that doesn’t overly challenge the moral sensibilities of its ABC1 readership or the advertising revenues produced as a result of that readership.
Editorial decisions tend to err on the side of safety. The Times reputation as a trusted news gathering organisation is central to the value of its brand - the production of sustained content that challenged that identity would be commercially problematic.
Consumer based regulation
A regulatory system in which content regulation is largely devolved to audiences. This gives media makers the freedom to produce whatever content they want and to make those products that audiences want to consume.
Media terminology used
Livingstone and Lunt suggest that the principle function of the independent bodies that regulate the UK's media is to protect children and other vulnerable groups from the harmful affects of media content. The limited protections offered to wider audiences by these bodies is widely criticized.
A consumer-oriented regulatory system relies upon media regulators to control their own output in the absence of strict government controls.