Press regulation is already problematic, with a 4th version since the GCP launched in 1953 looking no more likely than its predecessors to be judged a success.
In common with all media and media regulators, migration online is posing challenges. Is MailOnline a British newspaper operation when it's largest traffic source is the US? The same issue is raised by The Guardian which has a tiny circulation falling under 200k but the second largest online readership behind the world-leading Mail monster also has a majority US audience and targets distinct content at both American and Australian readers, with further editionalising likely.
The Guardian of course stands outside the regulatory system, having refused to sign up to IPSO. It is not alone in this, the FT, a long established global brand, and the Indie also refusing.
This week saw the now online-only Indie announce they were shifting key editorial roles to the US, once again reflecting the importance of US audiences, and the huge advertising market they create access to, for supposedly British newspapers.
Can IPSO or any future rivals (Impress are seeking Royal Charter recognition right now) or replacements cope with a British press that has multiple international domains (.com, .co.uk etc) for different markets? Will they consider complaints from American readers or individuals?
The future of media regulation looks ever more complex, with the globalisation digitisation and the spread of broadband creating multiple new challenges.
Independent looks to the US to drive digital-only future http://gu.com/p/4k9v2?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Of course, there may not be much of a press left if no solution is found to the monopolisation of online advertising by Facebook and Google (a combined 90% share!), with the printed version of papers already suffering from the online migration of advertising.
Given Peter Oborne's revelations about how the Telegraph spiked stories critical of HSBC to preserve advertising revenue from them, any blurring of the line between editorial and advertising would seem questionable.
Yet the London freesheet City AM is doing just that, announcing not just advertorial but advertiser-produced content with no editorial oversight for their website. Advertisers can simply create and post content designed to look like editorial, though there will be some unspecified notice that this is advertorial.
As the press grows ever more desperate to retain advertising revenue the effective licencing power that Curran and Seaton argue was invited by politicians in 1851 when stamp duty (tax) was scrapped can only increase. Chomsky cites advertising as one of the five filters removing radical, counter-hegemonic content in his propaganda model.
Curran and Seaton noted how the radical press, with its working class readership, largely collapsed at the point when conventional history says Britain gained a truly independent press. The Daily Herald was the world's largest circulation newspaper for a time, but by the 1960s the struggle to get advertisers saw the trade union owned paper making huge losses and it was sold as The S*n to Murdoch.
This advertising issue not only threatens the press industry overall, it particularly threatens to undermine the already undemocratic left-wing/right-wing balance of the UK press, currently running at around 13% to 87%, grouping the centrist i with the Guardian and Mirror.
Three Royal Commissions on the Press highlighted this as a key issue requiring tough regulatory steps, but the four versions of the press regulator have nothing to say on this (or ownership). A right-wing government is of course unlikely to seek change to a situation that favours it (although current Tory PM Cameron is finding he's not right-wing enough for some papers), while Tony Blair calculated that Labour would only have any hope of getting elected if they shifted away from left-wing policies to take on right-wing, free market ideals.