The number of complaints received by the Press Complaints Commission in 2005 was the highest in its 15-year history — 3,654 — but PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer denied that this was due to any drop in editorial standards.
Instead, he said it was due to the PCC's higher profile — and argued that editorial standards had actually improved.
The former government press officer said: "When you compare newspapers in the 1980s and 1990s with now, I would say without any doubt they are better behaved than they were. The 1980s was wild and woolly, it was great reading them, but it was pretty wild.
"I think it is a case of more visibility [for the PCC] than there being some great collapse in standards."
Clause One of the Editors' Code — accuracy — accounted for most of the actionable complaints, 67.4 per cent.
This was followed by privacy, 12.5 per cent; intrusion into grief or shock, 5.2 per cent; reporting of children, 3.4 per cent; and opportunity to reply, 2.3 per cent.
Meyer used the launch of the annual report to hit back at a common criticism of the PCC: that its adjudications are buried when they are published by newspapers that breach the code.
The PCC's own monitoring revealed that 34 per cent of adjudications appeared further forward than the original piece, 25 per cent appeared on the same page as the original and 22 per cent appeared in the corrections column.
Meyer urged editors to continue to publish prominent corrections and regular, prominent contact details for the PCC.
He said: "It is in the industry's own best interests to buttress self-regulation in this way and, for the faint of heart, I can assure you that, on the evidence so far, the prominent advertising of the PCC has not led to a surge of complaints against the publication in question."