Thursday 13 October 2011

The Toyota Prius solution to press regulation

The Toyota Prius is famous for being one of the first hybrid cars to combine electric and petrol powered engines.

Now a "Prius" solution to press regulation is being discussed. It is called "co-regulation" and involves a hybrid of voluntary self-regulation of the press with a touch of statutory compulsion.

The idea is to bring rogue proprietors like Express Newspapers' Richard Desmond, who has opted out of the Press Complaints Commission by refusing to pay for its upkeep, into line by forcing them to accept self-regulation.

Both Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, in his evidence to the Leveson inquiry and outgoing Press Complaints Commission chair Baroness Buscombe, in her lecture at City University last night, suggested some statutory powers - possibly via a new press ombudsman - would be needed to compel proprietors like Desmond to accept self-regulation. (see post below)

Presumably, sanctions such as large fines could be used to encourage proprietors and publishers who refused to be part of the self-regulatory system to change their mind.

A bit of statutory regulation may also satisfy those critics who think the PCC is too soft and a creature of the newspaper industry.

There you have it - two regulatory systems in one.

  • The Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBoF) announced today that Lord David Hunt will be the next chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). He will take up his appointment on Monday, succeeding Baroness Buscombe. Currently chairman of the Financial Services Division at the law firm Beachcroft, Lord Hunt is a former Cabinet Minister and MP for Wirral and, later, Wirral West.

    Lord Hunt said: "The PCC already plays an invaluable role, delivering fast, free and fair treatment of complaints from members of the public, as and when a newspaper has overstepped the line. There is a real appetite for change, however, and it is my intention to drive forward the creation of a reinvigorated and respected standards body, funded by the industry but operationally independent from both the industry and the state."

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