Renewed Discussion on Press Complaints Commission Future

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Last month, the UK Liberal Democrats called for an "overhaul of the PCC." (Credit:, screenshot, highlight added)

In light of the UK phone hacking scandal, much debate has focused on the purpose and future of the UK Press Complaints Commission, a media regulatory body.

A summary: As iMediaEthics has written, UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg stated that the PCC “failed as an effective watchdog” in mid-July and called for UK regulation to be reviewed. The Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger questioned the credibility and powers of the group in early July. Also in July, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband called the Press Complaints Commission “a toothless poodle.”  The UK prime minister David Cameron called for a “truly independent” media regulatory body.  Baroness Peta Buscombe resigned as chairman of the PCC in late July after the PCC was much criticized for its lack of action in the phone hacking scandal.

Despite the criticism, the PCC has defended its work and called for more powers.  However, a second political party has called for changes to the commission.

On Sept. 19, UK Liberal Democrats approved an “overhaul” of the print regulatory body, reported.

As Don Foster stated, according to, “No longer can we accept a regulator that works for the benefit of the press, rather than the public.”   Foster is “Co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport.”

The motion (see here) is labeled an “Emergency Motion.”  It states:

“While a free press is at the core of a liberal and democratic society, plays a crucial role in holding public figures and institutions to account, and is vital to healthy national debate; it must be subject to, and held accountable for the adherence to, high ethical and editorial standards.”

Also, the motion states that “Significant media outlets should be owned only by those people and organisations who are fit and proper to do so, and that plurality of ownership is essential to ensuring a diverse media.”

The conference also “condemned” everyone involved in hacking phones and bribing policy officers.  iMediaEthics wrote to the Press Complaints Commission asking for comment on the motion.  The PCC’s Jonathan Collett told us that “it wouldn’t be appropriate for the PCC to comment on the Lib Dem motion given our ongoing work with and contribution to the Leveson Inquiry.”

The Press Gazette reported Sept 19 that the PCC disclosed it is “conducting a wide-ranging review” of the commission.  The PCC rejected the Liberal Democrats statement that the PCC “works for the benefit of the press and not the public” and stated that most of its commissioners aren’t members of the press.  Collett confirmed to StinkyJournalism that it has “appointed a committee to look at reform of the PCC.” The committee will be “looking at issues like funding, independent, sanctions and compositions,” according to Collett and “will deliver its proposals to the Leveson Inquiry.”

The Guardian reported Sept. 20 that ” a panel of newspaper editors, politicians, regulators and lawyers at a meeting chaired by Sir Harold Evans” also decided that the PCC should “have its powers enhanced to avoid a repeat” of the phone hacking scandal.


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Renewed Discussion on Press Complaints Commission Future

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