Wednesday, 9 May 2012

PCC chairman: 'Many MPs would love to set the standards for newspapers and magazines'

Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt (top) has set himself firmly against any statutory element in a new regulatory regime for the press.

Speaking at the Professional Publishers Association annual conference in London, the former Tory minister said: "I know there are many MPs who would love to set standards for the newspapers and magazines but I don't want politicians controlling the media."

He claimed the old PCC had been criticised "for not using powers it never had" and had lost the confidence of political parties and the public.

Lord Hunt said he wanted the new PCC to be "a regulator with teeth" and have the power to fine publishers who broke the Editors' Code.

He has proposed a new PCC which would be underpinned by commercial contracts that could be enforced through the civil law. This would mean a publisher could be sued for consistent breaches of the code.

Several members of the audience raised the problem of Richard Desmond's Northern and Shell withdrawing its newspapers and magazines from the PCC, a major blow to self-regulation.

Lord Hunt said all "the giants"of magazine publishing had signed up to the proposed reforms of the PCC which he added should remain "wholly industry funded".

Lord Black, chairman of PressBof, also speaking at the PPA conference, said Northern and Shell had been included in the consultation process and he was hopeful that the company would sign up for the reforms.

Good Housekeeping editorial director and PCC member Lindsay Nicholson said of Desmond's desertion of the PCC: "I think it was his withdrawal that has done more damage to us in magazines than phone hacking."

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