When the UK Press Complaint Commission rules against a news outlet, the outlet is required to not only publish in full the PCC’s ruling, but also get approval from the PCC for due prominence — or where the ruling is published, like what page, and where on that page.
So, when the PCC ruled against the Sunday World last year for invading a woman’s privacy, the PCC naturally expected the Sunday World to publish the ruling in full and as agreed to the PCC.
But, instead the Sunday World edited the PCC’s ruling and published it without getting the OK from the commission. In its edit of the ruling, the Sunday World downplayed the negative parts of the ruling, moving up higher in the disclosure that the PCC dismissed one complaint of accuracy against the newspaper and burying the fact that the PCC ruled it invaded a woman’s privacy.
The PCC filed its own complaint against the Sunday World. And, of course, the PCC found the Sunday World guilty of not following the rules.
But most interesting is that, despite the new negative ruling against the Sunday World, the PCC couldn’t do much. There really is no punishment from the PCC as the commission doesn’t levy fines against news outlets.
The Sunday World only had to publish the new February ruling, the PCC confirmed to iMediaEthics. It didn’t even have to re-publish the original ruling that prompted the follow-up PCC complaint.
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“Requiring publication of an adverse adjudication is the ultimate sanction that the Commission can impose,” the PCC’s ruling admits.
The PCC’s Editors’ Code of Practice preamble dictates:
“Any publication judged to have breached the Code must publish the adjudication in full and with due prominence agreed with the Commission’s Director, including headline reference to the PCC.”
iMediaEthics previously wrote that the PCC decided in December that the Sunday World invaded the privacy of a woman named June McKibbin. Among the rulings, It dismissed one complaint about the accuracy of the article.
The Sunday World is an Irish newspaper owned by Independent News & Media.
iMediaEthics has written to the World for comment and will update with any additional information.