Northern and Shell withdraw from self regulation

Posted by on January 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm.

Northern and Shell, the publishers of the Daily Express and other Desmond publications, have withdrawn (or been excluded, depending on who’s talking) from the system of self regulation run by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

The statement from the PCC states…

The Press Complaints Commission has today responded to the news that Northern & Shell is withdrawing its subscription to the Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBof) and, accordingly, its financial support for the system of press self-regulation. To preserve its independence, the PCC does not involve itself directly in obtaining funding from publishers. However, a refusal to support the self-regulatory system financially means that a 7newspaper publisher effectively withdraws from the PCC’s formal jurisdiction, which the PCC considers regrettable.

Which means what?

So the first to suffer will, of course, be members of the public who are upset by articles in titles such as the Daily Express and Daily Star.

If they contact the PCC in future they may well be given assistance in how to compose a complaint letter to send direct to the offending paper. But they will be on their own after that.

If Desmond’s editors choose to ignore complaints altogether, nothing can be done for the complainant.

Which suits Desmond and his papers just fine. Why Desmond has decided to leave the self regulatory system is not known apart from getting fed up with how often his publications are up for adjudication. Is it any surprise when Desmond and his papers have such a loose grasp of the truth?

As for the industry itself, has self regulation been shaken to it’s foundation? There is the loss of income for the PCC. It’s an unknown amount as the subscriptions paid by the national press is kept a secret. It may have an impact, but how much, is unknown. The system may be able to carry on as it is as the newspaper and magazine industry groups have given their support to the PCC, to try and show that self regulation isn’t dead…

Clive Milner, chairman of the Newspaper Publishers Association, representing national newspapers, said: “The PCC exists to ensure national newspapers conform to clear editorial standards which are independently regulated. All NPA members are committed to upholding this system of press self-regulation which protects and serves members of the public so effectively and maintains a free, responsible press.”

As long as the veneer of regulation looks ok, then the show can carry on.. until more of the err, less scrupulous publishers decide that they too don’t need the hassle of being asked where they want to put apologies, if they bother at all. If that happens, then the whole thing falls apart as the only way to get redress would be to be armed with a lawyer or five.

The Media Standards Trust, the people behind amongst other things Journalisted and campaigns for better regulation of the press, has asked some open questions of all the parties involved, Northern & Shell, The PCC and the Press Board of Finance (PressBoF), which if answered may give a better idea as to where press regulation in this country will go.

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