The Press Complaints Commission has hit back after MPs claimed last week that confidence in the watchdog has plummeted in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
Last month Labour leader Ed Miliband called for an independent review of press regulation and at a Commons debate Conservative MP John Whittingdale – chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee – said the phone-hacking revelations had led to the greatest ever loss of confidence in the system of press self-regulation.
PCC director Stephen Abell told Press Gazette that the body had last month conducted ‘nationally representative polling’which showed that 79 per cent of people have no concerns over confidence in the PCC (meaning they were either very confident, confident, or neutral).
‘The commission is always happy to talk about the facts relating to its work,’he said. “We are committed to serving the public, who use us more than ever before. And they use us with confidence.”
The polling was conducted by Toluna in April and asked 2000 people for their thoughts on the PCC. According to the PCC the study, which was nationally weighted, also found:
- 72 per cent view the effectiveness of the PCC positively or neutrally;
- 86.2 per cent regard the 24-hour helpline service (designed to deal with harassment or pre-publication concerns) positively or neutrally;
- Over half the population know something about the PCC and nearly 80 per cent have at least heard of the PCC.
Abell said: ‘The PCC has been in existence for twenty years, and has never been more active, and proactive, than it is now. We have high satisfaction rates from those who use us (around 80 per cent are positive about their experience), and are helping more people than ever before.
‘In 2010, we issued around 1700 rulings and resolved more than 550 complaints. We also dealt with media scrums (across the press and broadcast industry) and prevented intrusive information being published more than 100 times. We proactively contacted those at the centre of a news story to offer our services 25 times.
‘People who have direct experience of the PCC and its work tend to have a favourable view of it.
‘We are also, of course, subject to comments from those with little knowledge – or little interest in knowledge – of what we actually do, and how we act to help people. It would be regrettable if such comments are allowed to distort the positive aspects of our work.”