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PCC chair appeals against statutory press regulation

PCC chair appeals against statutory press regulation

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday November 14 2012

The Guardian reports on the speech given by the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, Lord David Hunt, to the Society of Editors annual conference in Belfast in which he appeals against the introduction of statutory press regulation.

Lord Hunt argued that the entire press should not be penalised because of the alleged criminality of the few, saying “Because of criminal activities on the part of one national publisher, everyone, including the local and regional press, is threatened with statutory regulation”.

The Guardian states that “He has proposed a new regulator with power to investigate and fine that could be up and running almost immediately if the government or Leveson give it the green light”.

The Guardian reports that Lord Hunt implied that self-regulation of the press had not failed because it had never really existed in the first place and that an independent and strengthened regulator could encourage good journalism.

“To those who claim the PCC can be equated with self-regulation of the press and that, therefore, self-regulation of the press has failed, I say this: self-regulation of the press has not failed, because it has never been tried.”

“I believe the new regulator, through its standards arm, should do more to promulgate, within the industry and more widely, a compelling vision of what constitutes good journalism and a good journalist.”

Hunt’s comments come amidst a rush of commentary surrounding the future of press-regulation. Last week, forty-two MPs and two peers wrote a letter to the Guardian backing some form of statutory regulation of the press. This was preceded by a number of academics who wrote to the Guardian expressing dismay at the paper’s support for self-regulation. Supporters of statutory regulation, such as Brian Cathcart, founder of the Hacked Off campaign and Professor of Journalism at Kingston University, have drawn comparisons with the regulation of broadcast media and statutory regulation of the judiciary to illustrate the viability of similar regulation of the press.

Professor Roy Greenslade and Lisa O’Carroll also in the Guardian have written a useful article summarising the main issues at stake on press regulation and the perspectives put forward by the different ‘camps,’ those in support of statutory regulation; the newspaper lobby; the Conservative Party; and the Labour Party. The article includes a reference to comments by the Conservative peer and chair of the Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBof) which funds the PCC, Lord Black, who has ‘warned’ Leveson that statutory regulation could take three years to implement and may face ‘unending legal challenges’.

Earlier this year, ENGAGE made a number of recommendations to Lord Hunt for a reformed press regulator which you can read here.


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