Tag Archives: self-regulation

MeejaLaw: Outgoing PCC chair takes a swipe at the Guardian

Baroness Buscombe, outgoing chair of the Press Complaints Commission, singled out the Guardian during a talk at City University last night, accusing the paper of misquoting her “non-stop” for three years.

Responding to a question from Guardian data journalist James Ball about her comments on enforced regulation compliance, Buscombe demanded to know what he was going to tweet and repeatedly said “Have you got that Guardian?”

See a full report from media law blogger Judith Townend on Meeja Law at this link.

And a report from Jon Slattery here.

PCC rejects ‘not a regulator’ claim

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.

Read Petley’s full article at this link.

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”.

Read Collett’s full response at this link.

Rusbridger: ‘If we want a PCC that is effective we will all have to pay more’

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, who has been and remains a vocal critic of the Press Complaints Commission, argued last night that the regulatory body should be supported and improved, not scrapped, and said the press will need to pay more to if it wants an effective regulator.

Delivering the Anthony Sampson lecture at City University London, Rusbridger, who resigned from the PCC code committee in November 2009, did not let up in his customary criticism of the body, calling it “ineffective” and its 2009 report into phone-hacking at the News of the World “utterly feeble”.

“How, MPs reasonably ask, can we as an industry argue that self-regulation works when it evidently failed quite spectacularly over phone hacking?”, he asked.

In March last year, speaking at a debate on self-regulation in the House of Lords, Rusbridger suggested the PCC might be “flying the wrong flag [and might be] better to rebrand itself as a media complaints and conciliation service and forget about regulation”.

But he argued last night that self-regulation remains preferable to statutory regulation, and called for the PCC to take a tougher stance on issues such as phone hacking.

He asked why it hadn’t written directly to News International over Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal, to ask “why are you paying fees of someone likely to be involved in illegal activity?”.

The PCC, he said, needed to “do something which showed a vertabrae”.

I can’t imagine a fine than would scare News International, they’re just so big and rich. What scares them is the truth, they’re are scared of the truth coming out.

I put it to Rusbridger after the lecture that one of the things required to strengthen the regulator and allow it to undertake proper investigations would be better funding, and asked if, alongside his criticism of the body and calls for it to be improved, the Guardian should lead the way in making a greater financial contribution.

It’s difficult, it’s not lavishly funded and it’s clearly not set up to do something like a big investigation into phone hacking. I think if we want the kind of PCC that’s going to be effective we are all going to have to pay more. But that’s a pretty tough message if you work on the Yorkshire Post or the East Anglian Daily Times. Why should you pay more when by and large you’re not doing things that are going to require fantastically expensive investigation?

He acknowledged that the PCC did not have the funds to undertake thorough investigations, investigations “with teeth”, and said the press would have “to be a bit more creative about the way that we fund the PCC”.

It can’t just stagger on as it is, being completely ineffective because they shrug they’re shoulders and say ‘we haven’t got the power and we haven’t got the money’.

See Rusbridger’s full lecture at this link.

Media Standards Trust: watching the PCC

A relatively new blog has been set up by the Media Standards Trust to provide regular scrutiny of the work of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and press self-regulation in the UK.

As the allegations of phone hacking against the News of the World rumble on, PCC Watch could become a regular read. The Media Standards Trust has been critical of the PCC’s investigation into the practice in the past and has already blogged its views on calls for the body to launch a fresh inquiry.

Media release: PCC remit to include online-only publications

After an industry-wide consultation, the Press Standards Board of Finance Ltd (PressBoF) has announced it will extend the remit of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to include online-only publications. This will mainly apply to online magazines, it said in its release.

Pressbof, independent of the PCC, is responsible for raising a levy on the newspaper and magazine industry to finance the Commission.

The extension has been agreed on these terms:

1. Such publications must be recognisable as UK based newspapers or magazines which, if in printed form, would come within the jurisdiction of the PCC.

2. The publisher and editor must subscribe to the Editors’ Code of Practice.

3. The publisher must agree to pay registration fees to PressBoF.

“The internet is an increasingly important platform for publishers to reach consumers. While online versions of newspapers and magazines available in printed form come within the remit of the PCC, there is a gap to the extent that online-only publications do not,” said Guy Black, chairman of PressBoF.

“This decision is a logical development in self-regulation, recognising the moves in the magazine sector towards online-only titles, and underlines the effectiveness of our system.”

Baroness Buscombe, chairman of the PCC, said she welcomed the decision by the industry:

“The PCC needs this freedom to develop rapidly to meet the challenges and the opportunities presented by media convergence. One clear strength of the self-regulatory system is its flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, while still providing a service that is free, fast, discreet and which involves the public in its decision-making.”

Full release at this link…