Monday 9 February 2009

PCC 'fundamentally flawed' says Media Standards Trust chair Sir David Bell

The Press Complaints Commission has always found it hard to win over friends outside the industry and gets another bashing today from the independent charity The Media Standards Trust.
It claims the PCC is "incapable of dealing with the serious and growing threats to press standards and press freedom".
The charity is chaired by Sir David Bell, chairman of the Financial Times. He said: "Our research has shown that the current system of press self-regulation is failing the public. It is fundamentally flawed and in urgent need of reform. We believe that the Press Complaints Commission is constitutionally and structurally unable to deal with these threats, particularly in the context of the rapidly changing new media environment."
Although the criticism of the PCC is not new the MST report does have a contemporary context by taking into account the impact of the economic crisis on the industry.
It says: "Journalists are under greater pressure than ever before and the situation has been made worse by the recession which has seen newsrooms cutting editorial resources. Some newspapers are also sacrificing standards in order to maintain sales, as seen in the inaccurate and in some cases defamatory reporting of the Madeleine McCann case."
The research carried out by YouGov for the Trust , reports 75 per cent of the public saying that "newspapers frequently publish stories they know are inaccurate", and only 7 per cent saying they trust national newspapers to behave responsibly.
The MST says it is collecting "constructive" ideas for regulatory reform. It will publish its recommendations later in 2009. In the past suggested reforms have included financial sanctions, either fines or compensation payments, for rogue newspapers and an independent regulatory system. It is argued that both measures would lead to judicial reviews, more involvement by lawyers and the courts, and would ultimately restrict the freedom of the press.

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