Voluntary newspaper complaints adjudicator, the Press Complaints Commission, “makes up the rules” on the hoof and should become answerable to parliament, urges Lord David Puttnam.
In an interview last week with the UK Press Gazette, Oscar-winning former film producer Puttnam, now an influential Labour peer, opined that the self-appointed body “would do itself a favour” by submitting an annual report to parliament for a review of its decisions by a select committee.
The PCC, whose chairman and ‘independent’ members are appointed by the editors and proprietors of Britain’s national daily newspapers, investigates and rules on complaints made by individual citizens.
Said Puttnam: “I am generally in favour of ‘accredited self-regulation’ being applied to any number of organisations. In order to be sustainable, the PCC would do itself a favour if it gave an annual report to parliament and it was regulated in such a way that it can be called before a select committee to explain any aberrant decision.
He added: “It is not good enough in the 21st century to have a small club of proprietors and editors effectively making up and interpreting the rules as they go along.”
Puttnam’s view was endorsed by another member of the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat representative Lord Tom McNally, who urged that the PCC be brought under the control of OfCom, the new ‘supra-regulator’ for media. Speaking last week to the Lib-Dem party conference at Brighton, McNally said he aims to table an appropriate amendment to the Communications Bill, currently in passage through the House of Commons.
“I wish the new chairman of the PCC [Sir Christopher Meyer] well,” said McNally. “But such an amendment will put him on notice that parliament expects him to initiate robust reform of the PCC as a matter of urgency. The PCC all too often seems to act as a buffer against justified criticism, rather than an enforcer of standards.”
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff