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Consultation on press regulation

THERE IS a consultation on press regulation, which closes on Sunday 12 June 2016. It is being carried out by the Press Recognition Panel, the "independent body set up by Royal Charter to ensure that regulators of the UK press are independent, properly funded and able to protect the public".

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The two questions, and the Freelance's views on them, are:

  1. In your opinion, has the new system for overseeing press regulation in the UK been a success or failure so far? Please explain your reasons.

    So far, it has not worked. Many relevant publishers have decided to stay outside the recognised system proposed by Lord Leveson in order to try to continue the old failed system. Leveson anticipated that this may happen and said that if it did, Parliament needed to act, saying: "if some or all of the industry are not willing to participate in effective independent regulation, my own concluded view is to reject the notion that they should escape regulation altogether. I cannot, and will not, recommend another last chance saloon for the press. With some measure of regret, therefore, I am driven to conclude that the Government should be ready to consider the need for a statutory backstop regulator being established, to ensure, at the least, that the press are subject to regulation that would require the fullest compliance with the criminal and civil law, if not also to ensure consequences equivalent to those that would flow from an independent self-regulatory system."

  2. For publishers, joining an approved regulator is voluntary. For regulators, applying for Charter recognition is voluntary. In your opinion, what factors or issues will affect regulators' and publishers' decisions when they consider these choices?

    Leveson concluded that the voluntary version of the system would only have a chance to work if publishers were offered incentives for joining it. So he proposed a system of "cost-shifting" Complainants against a registered regulator are offered low-cost arbitration: if they rejectthis and choose to go to court, the publisher is protected from paying court costs. This would protect publishers from the "chilling effect" of the fear of paying huge court costs to a rich complainant.

    Parliament passed Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 to provide the machinery for a registered regulator. But the Government is refusing to bring this section of the Act into force. It should stop blocking it.

The National Union of Journalists has - to the annoyance of press publishers - backed the idea of a recognised regulator that is not beholden to those publishers.

Last modified: 09 Jun 2016 - © 2016 contributors
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