UK press to 'scrutinise' new regulations

2013-03-19 12:16
Rupert Murdoch. (Justin Sullivan, AFP)

Rupert Murdoch. (Justin Sullivan, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

London - Britain's newspapers vowed to closely scrutinise a deal struck on Monday by the main political parties for a tough new press regulator, which they warned threatens 318 years of press freedom.

MPs insisted the agreement would rein in the kind of misdeeds exposed by the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, without curbing press freedom, but the newspapers said the government had "crossed the Rubicon".

Prime Minister David Cameron said the new regulator would have the power to issue harsh sanctions on misbehaving newspapers, including fines of up to $1.5m.

"We need a system of tough, independent self-regulation that will deliver for victims," he told parliament.

Cameron warned that regulation of Britain's famously unruly press must "actually deliver" for victims of media intrusion, rather than being simply "an exercise in grandstanding".

The new body will be able to force newspapers to issue upfront apologies for inaccurate or intrusive stories, Cameron said, as well as offering a free arbitration system for victims.

Newspapers that refuse to sign up for the voluntary system could face extremely high "exemplary" damages in court cases.

Dangerous precedent

A statement issued by the Daily Mail Group, Telegraph Media Group and News International - publishers of The Sun and Times newspapers - said they needed "time to study" before responding to the "deeply contentious issues" contained within the plan.

The Guardian, which uncovered much of the hacking scandal, said the statement "suggests that many powerful players are still calculating whether to play ball.

"The political class as a whole could discover that the brokering has only just begun," it cautioned on Tuesday.

Political leaders said the deal, finally struck at 2:30 (0230 GMT) on Monday after months of negotiations, addressed the abuses laid bare in last year's Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, without bringing an end to more than three centuries of press freedom in Britain.

However, the Daily Telegraph accused MPs of "crossing the Rubicon".

"Last night, parliament decided that 318 years was long enough to let newspapers and magazines remain beyond its influence," said its editorial.

The Times said the deal set "a dangerous precedent" and called Monday "a bleak episode in the story of freedom of the press in Britain".

Newspapers ‘wrecked havoc’

Murdoch tabloid The Sun ran with front-page headline "Ministry of Truth", recalling the totalitarian society imagined by George Orwell in novel 1984.

Cameron set up the inquiry in the wake of revelations that Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid illegally accessed the voicemail messages of a murdered schoolgirl as well as dozens of public figures.

Over eight months of hearings, Judge Brian Leveson heard testimony from dozens of victims of press intrusion, including actor Hugh Grant and Harry Potter author JK Rowling, as well as politicians, journalists and newspaper executives.

Leveson concluded in his final report that British newspapers had "wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people" and recommended a complete overhaul of their system of self-regulation, backed by a new law.

The governing coalition had been split over how to implement Leveson's recommendations, with Conservative leader Cameron rejecting plans for a new press law advocated by his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the opposition Labour Party.

'Sad day for press freedom'

The compromise reached early Monday will see a new press watchdog created under a royal charter, a special document used to establish organisations such as the Bank of England and the BBC.

The charter will be protected by a separate law which, while making no mention of the press, will state that all charters passed after 1 March 2013 can only be modified by a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Both sides claimed victory on Monday, with Cameron saying he had saved newspapers from potential censorship, and Labour leader Ed Miliband saying the new system would be protected in statute from meddling politicians.

Cameron insisted the new charter did not amount to a law regulating the press.
"It's wrong to create a vehicle whereby politicians could more easily in the future impose obligations on the press," he told lawmakers.

Hacked Off, the campaign group representing victims of media intrusion, said the proposals were "second best" to a full press law but would help prevent a repeat of the scandal.

But free speech campaigners Index on Censorship warned that Monday's deal spelled a "sad day for press freedom in the UK".


- SAPA
Read more on:    rupert murdoch  |  david cameron  |  uk  |  uk hacking scandal  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Mind power dominates and can help you to uncover things from a deeper level, but it can also create entanglements if you let your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.