The Press Complaints Commission has responded to an article published yesterday which claimed that the body was just a mediator and not a regulator. The piece, by Brunel University’s professor of screen media and journalism Julian Petley and published on the New Left Project site, calls the PCC “merely a body which deals with complaints about the press, the equivalent of the customer services department of any large corporate organisation”.
As the PCC misses no opportunity to remind us, it regards what it calls self regulation as preferable to any other kind of regulation, especially statutory regulation. As the Commission is financed by the very publications which it is supposed to be regulating, this is hardly surprising. However, the PCC cannot with justification present itself as a regulator given that (a) it was not established as a regulator and consequently (b) nothing in its Articles of Association suggest that it is meant to perform a regulatory function.
PCC director of communications Jonathan Collett responded to the piece today, rejecting the idea that the body is merely a mediator and not a regulator. Collett calls the New Left Project article a “lively read” but claims it is “undermined by being based on several false premises”.
Julian Petley is obviously wrong to try to characterise the PCC as merely a mediator and not a regulator. He is wrong to suggest there is nothing in the PCC’s Articles of Association to suggest it performs a regulatory function when those articles actually specifically state that the PCC has responsibility to: “consider and pronounce on issues relating to the Code of Practice which the Commission, in its absolute discretion considers to be in the public interest”.