Main findings

Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 00:00

The British press has been reckless in prioritising sensational stories almost irrespective of the harm the stories may cause and the rights of those who would be affected.

Journalists targeted actors, footballers, writers and pop stars in a way that affected them and their families negatively whether there was a true public interest or not.

The press was willing to use covert surveillance, misrepresentation and deception in circumstances where it was difficult to see any public interest.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has failed and must be replaced.

A new self-regulatory body, backed by legislation guaranteeing its independence of the press, of parliament, and of the government, to be set up.

Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industry, to “recognise and certify” that the new press regulatory body meets the requirements of the law, and review its operation after two years and then at three-yearly intervals.

Board of the new regulatory body to have a majority of non-press members, though with a “sufficient number” of ex-editors, senior journalists and academics with detailed knowledge of the industry. Serving editors barred as well as MPs and other government ministers.

An expert panel, with a “substantial majority who are demonstrably independent of the press” but including at least one insider and and no more than one serving editor, to pick a chair for the board and then help him or her select its members.

A “fair, quick and inexpensive” arbitration service to resolve complaints outside of court. To encourage publications to sign up, those outside of the arbitration system could lose rights to reclaim court costs.

For the past 30-35 years political parties have had or developed too close a relationship with the press.

Report concludes that positive steps are needed to address “a genuine and legitimate problem of public perception, and hence of trust and confidence”.

Report says British government should ensure plurality of media ownership.

– (Reuters)