As the Leveson Inquiry considers proposals for a replacement for the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), research published by LSE finds that the model proposed by UK Newspapers would diverge from international norms.
Most journalism councils are founded by journalist’s associations together with publishers and can involve some state role without undermining freedom of expression. In the light of this international research, the PCC proposals seem to re-introduce the basic flaws that undermined the previous UK model, namely that the the body exists – or is percieved to exist – to protect the interests of owners and editors, rather than those of journalism and the public.
On Wednesday, this week, the Inquiry released the submissions of both Lord Hunt of the PCC and Lord Black, chair of the Press Standard Board of Finance (Pressbof), both of which propose models for new self-regulatory bodies for the press.
According to the report’s co-author, Manuel Puppis:
“There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Comparing systems from across Europe there are a few key lessons and one is that such mechanisms most often go beyond just the print press – so press self-regulation is actually journalism self-regulation.”
The report also shows that, in most countries, self regulatory bodies like the PCC are not only founded by publishers and media owners, but also by journalists’ associations or unions. They also tend to involve representatives of the public at various levels.
As Puppis points out, there is also evidence of constructive state involvement in many cases:
“Our report shows that there is a role for the state in journalism self-regulation, in providing incentives to join, setting criteria for the formation of a self-regulatory body, and/or part funding the body. Other press and journalism councils have state involvement without state capture.”
The authors conclude the report with a set of recommendations including that the PCC’s replacement should be formed by both media owners and the NUJ, as well as including consumer groups or other representatives of the public. They also suggest that the state be involved by setting minimum criteria, offerring incentives for participation, and/or help fund the new body.