'Don't Fine Papers for Breaking Rules': UK Press Watchdog

13 January 2004

Britain's voluntary press regulator, the Press Complaints Commission, financed and run by the newspaper industry, believes that its corporate funders should not be liable to fines if they persistently break the body's self-crafted code of practice.

The PCC, which reported a steep rise in complaints from 2,630 to 3,649 (+38.7%) during 2003, repudiated a demand by Parliament's culture, media and sport select committee that it publish a league table of its members' compliance with the code.

It is equally unenthusiastic at the committee's urging that stubborn offenders pay compensation to complainants. And the watchdog also rejects a recommendation that offending newspaper editors no longer sit in judgement on complaints.

Such suggestions, says the PCC, are "impractical and unfair", pleading in extenuation: "Almost all breaches of the code are the result of misjudgement or mistake, rather than a cynical contravention of its clauses."

But the doughty defenders of press freedom did confirm they would agree to some of the select committee's proposals, including that of an independent review of the PCC's procedures.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff