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UK newspapers reject press-regulation plans

Group representing national and local newspapers offers own proposal, following government report on media abuses.

Last Modified: 25 Apr 2013 17:46
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A public inquiry, led by a judge, was set up in the wake of a phone hacking scandal at the News of the World [AP]

Britain's newspaper industry has rejected the government's plans for a new system to regulate the press and submitted its own proposals instead.

The Newspaper Society, a body which represents several national and local titles and had argued the government's plans could imperil press freedom, announced on Thursday they had rejected the proposals for "state sponsored" regulation.

"The draft royal charter published by the government on 18 March - which has been condemned by a range of international press freedom organisations - has no support within the press," the group said in a statement.

Last month, the government published plans to overhaul press regulation following a public inquiry headed by senior judge Brian Leveson.

The inquiry and the resulting report were set up in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal at one of Rupert Murdoch's tabloids, the News of the World.

David Cameron, the UK prime minister, oversaw the deal for a new regulatory system and called for radical changes to address public outrage.

Industry proposal

The Newspaper Society said the industry would apply for its own royal charter to establish a new system, which it said would address the issues raised in the inquiry.

[Industry system regulation] will be of real benefit to the public, at the same time as protecting freedom of speech

The Newspaper Society.

"This ... will deliver on Leveson and bind the UK's national and local newspapers and magazines to a tough and enduring system of regulation - tougher than anywhere else in the western world - which will be of real benefit to the public, at the same time as protecting freedom of speech," the group said.

The industry's proposals would allow the regulator to levy fines of up to $1.5m for "systematic wrongdoing" and ensure "up-front corrections, with inaccuracies corrected fully and prominently".

However, unlike the government plans, which had the support of all three main political parties, it would not allow parliament to change the royal charter.

News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corporation, Associated Newspapers which publishes the Daily Mail, and Trinity Mirror were among the publishers to back the rival industry system.

Peter Wright, an executive at Associated Newspapers, said he had spoken to the editors of the Financial Times, the Independent and the Guardian papers who saw it as a good way to reopen the debate.

"No one has signed up on the specifics, we are beginning a process," he told BBC radio. "There will be points of detail which people will want to talk about."

A brief statement from the government's culture department said they would need to look at the plans.

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