Monday, 18 March 2013

'Deeply contentious issues' on Royal Charter plan

While MPs were congratulating themselves in the Commons on reaching the cross-party agreement on a Royal Charter-based press regulation system,  major players in the industry warned it contains "deeply contentious issues".

A statement from major national titles and bodies representing the regional press and magazines said: "We would like to make it clear that, contrary to reports broadcast by the BBC this morning, no representative of the newspaper and magazine industry had any involvement in, or indeed any knowledge of, the cross-party talks on press regulation that took place on Sunday night.

"We have only late this afternoon seen the Royal Charter that the political parties have agreed between themselves and, more pertinently, the Recognition Criteria, early drafts of which contained several deeply contentious issues which have not yet been resolved with the industry.

"In the light of this we are not able to give any response on behalf of the industry to this afternoon’s proposals until we have had time to study them."

It was signed by Daily Mail Group, News International, Newspaper Society, Professional Publishers Association and  Telegraph Media Group.

Update: Adrian Jeakings (above), president of the Newspaper Society and chief executive of Archant, issued this statement:

“Lord Justice Leveson found that the UK’s local media had nothing to do with the phone hacking scandal which prompted the Inquiry. Indeed, he praised regional and local newspapers for their important social and democratic role and recommended that the regulatory model proposed should not provide an added burden to our sector. He called on the Government to look urgently at what action it might take to help safeguard regional and local newspapers’ ongoing viability as a valued and important part of the British press.

“Yet the deal announced by the three main political parties today completely ignores the Leveson recommendations on the local press. The Royal Charter proposals agreed by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour - with huge financial penalties for newspapers which choose to be outside the system and an arbitration service which would open the floodgates to compensation claimants - would place a crippling burden on the UK’s 1100 local newspapers inhibiting freedom of speech and the freedom to publish.

"Local newspapers remain fiercely opposed to any form of statutory involvement or underpinning in the regulation of the press. A free press cannot be free if it is dependent on and accountable to a regulatory body recognised by the state."

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