Views on the national and local newspapers’ alternative Royal Charter
A RIVAL Royal Charter for press self-regulation has been drawn up by publishers in the news business. The Government’s Royal Charter is not to their liking. (Read it in full here.)
The Newspaper Society explains:
“This initiative by the UK’s national, regional and magazine publishers completely accepts the need for a new regulator to be recognised by a genuinely independent body – which was a central conclusion of the Leveson Inquiry – and aims to help move the debate about the future regulation of the press to a constructive conclusion. Importantly, there will be a public consultation on the industry’s proposals giving newspaper and magazine readers the chance to have their say – a consultation that the Government has refused for its state-sponsored scheme.
“The industry’s proposal is closely based on the draft Royal Charter published on 12 February which had been painstakingly negotiated with national and local newspapers and magazines, and accepted by Ministers. It is a workable, practical way swiftly to deliver the Leveson recommendations, which the industry accepts, without any form of state-sponsored regulation that would endanger freedom of speech. It has widespread backing across the industry. It will deliver a system of regulation which will provide real protection for the public and which offers:
• tough sanctions, with the new regulator having the power to impose fines of up to £1 million for systematic wrongdoing ;
• up-front corrections, with inaccuracies corrected fully and prominently;
• strong investigative powers enabling the regulator to investigate wrongdoing and call editors to account;
• genuine independence from the industry and from politicians with all the bodies making up the new regulator having a majority of independent members appointed openly and transparently; and
• public involvement in the framing of the Code of Practice which binds national and local newspapers and magazines.”
Hacked Off responds:
“This desperate move by editors and proprietors – rejecting the Royal Charter agreed last month by all parties in Parliament and due to be approved by the Queen in days – is only the latest proof that most of the industry has learned no lessons from the Leveson experience. They are not sorry for the abuses exposed at the inquiry, or for the further abuses exposed almost weekly since, and they do not accept the need for real change.”
“I was also so upset with Steve Coogan…During the lunch I asked, given that he had been part of the Leveson Inquiry and strongly complained about invasion of privacy, why he thought it was acceptable putting me in scenes that never happened: wasn’t it an invasion of my privacy? I never, for example, took part in orgies, or a threesome. But it didn’t seem to matter to him in the slightest.”
Simon O’Neill, group editor of the Oxford Mail:
“I support radical changes to the way Britain’s press is regulated, as I want no part of an industry that hacks phones and convicts innocent people on the front pages. But I will not accept a system that has been steamrollered through by self-interested politicians and pressure groups in the dead of night.
“The implications for press freedom in this country with politicians astride the regulation process hardly bear thinking about. Furthermore, I am disappointed, but not surprised, that despite fine words from MPs of all parties, including the three leaders, the impact this would have on the regional press has been completely ignored, or at best viewed as collateral damage. They clearly believed that if they patted us on the head we’d just go away. They were wrong.
“I want firm, fair and credible press regulation that also preserves freedom of the press in this country for another 300 years or more. That is why I support the Independent Royal Charter. It offers a sensible and effective solution to the current stalemate.”
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