Press regulation backlash: 'Press freedom is worth fighting for, I suspect the newspapers will now fight'

The cross-party press regulation deal agreed on Monday is prompting fierce criticism from the press.

So far, only Independent editor Chris Blackhurst has indicated his titles would definitely join the regulator, The Spectator has said it definitely won't and the rest of the newspaper and magazine industry is weighing up its options. News blogs and websites employing mutliple authors would also be subject to the risk of exemplary libel damages if they refuse to join the regulator.

Here's a round-up of reaction to the press regulation plan: 

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson:

“You don’t need to understand the text of the Royal Charter to grasp its key point: this is a clear attempt for politicians to license the press.  It’s a power grab. But the press has a choice. It can sign up David Cameron’s peculiar Royal Charter press club, with its medieval dress code, or it can decline.

“I strongly suspect that newspapers will give their own ‘no’ to the Royal Charter – perhaps in a smaller font size –and then produce their own robust regulation with all the essential components of the Leveson deal. Press freedom is worth fighting for, and I suspect the newspapers will now fight.”

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor-in-chief:

"We welcome the fact that there has been cross-party agreement. The regulatory settlement is by and large a fair one, with compromises on all sides. We retain grave reservations about the proposed legislation on exemplary damages. The agreed terms are not ideal but after two years of inquiry and debate we finally have the prospect of what the public wants – a robust regulator that is independent of both press and politics. It's a big improvement on what went before."

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation – via Twitter:

“UK Royal Charter requires Queen's signature. Unlikely without full all party support. Queen doesn't do politics.”

Chris Blackhurst, editor of The Independent:

“Ideally we would not want any new regulatory system at all, but that was never going to happen. This isn’t perfect but neither is it terrible. I don’t see anything in it that will threaten the sort of journalism we produce at The Independent.”

Nespaper Society president and Archant chief executive Adrian Jeakings:

 “Local newspapers remain fiercely opposed to any form of statutory involvement or underpinning in the regulation of the Press. A free Press cannot be free if it is dependent on and accountable to a regulatory body recognised by the state.”

Daily Telegraph deputy editor Benedict Brogan:

"The biggest newspaper groups put their heads together and agreed to think about it, but you don't need to be Mystic Meg to work out that the drift is towards rejection. For my part – and this is a personal view – I've concluded that we should note the outcome, thank the politicians for their engagement, and quietly but firmly decline to take part."

Chartered Institute of Journalists president Charlie Harris (quoted in The Guardian):

 “The "light-touch" proposals agreed by MPs would allow tougher controls to be imposed in future. The alleged malpractices which led to the Leveson Inquiry and the arrest of dozens of journalists are criminal offences, not ethical misdemeanours. The problem is not a failure of the regulatory system but the failure of the police to enforce the law. Supporters of statutorily backed ethical regulation, led by Hacked Off, have hijacked the issue to seek revenge on the whole press for the sins of a few journalists on a handful of national newspapers.”

Former Formula One boss Max Mosely, appearing with lobby group Hacked-Off representatives in Parliament (Guardian):

"I think the reason [the press] will join is that in the end they're all running a business. It will be much better commercially for them to be part of the regulator than outside it.

“The reaction has been emotional … but when they sit and look at it calmly they'll realise it will save them a fortune in legal fees and the commercial interests will prevail."

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman (Guardian):

“After Leveson reported, the judge said the ball was now in the politicians' court. He asked us all to work together to agree and we did. Now the ball is in the press's court and I hope they will rise to the challenge."

 

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