Newspaper industry opposes press regulation plans

By Camilla Capasso

The UK press has rejected government plans to regulate the industry.

Unions and others say proposals for a Royal Charter risk allowing politicians to interfere in the regulation of the press.

Kirsty Hughes, CEO of Index on Censorship, said: “In spite of David Cameron’s claims, there can be no doubt that what has been established is statute underpinning the press regulator. This introduces a layer of political control that is extremely undesirable.”

Index on Censorship and others are concerned that under the plans, government could change the charter with the agreement of two-thirds of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The UK press has put forward a counterproposal to the Royal Charter, which has now gone to the Privy Council for consideration.

The alternative proposal suggests that any change to the charter would need to be approved unanimously by the newspaper industry, the new watchdog and a recognition panel that will supervise an independent press regulatory board.

Charlie Harris, the president of the Charter Institute of Journalists, said: “It is too early to say whether the draft charter tabled by the publishing industry is an acceptable alternative to the ‘official’ charter. But the Institute hopes that it will give the Coalition pause for thought.”

The final shape of the new regulator will be decided once the Privy Council has finished looking at the press industry’s proposal.

The Royal Charter is due to go for approval by the Queen on May 15.