The newspaper and magazine industry’s Royal Charter on press regulation has been tweaked to include the provision of a whistleblowers’ hotline.
This was a key Leveson report recommendation left out of the document published by the Newspaper Society on 25 April.
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The Charter was today formally submitted to the Privy Council for consideration. It is believed that it will be considered alongside the Parliament-backed Royal Charter on press regulation which was published on 18 March. According to the Newspaper Society, that document has yet to be submitted to the Privy Council – which is expected to hold its next meeting on 15 May.
The press Royal Charter has the backing of the Newspaper Society, the Newspaper Publishers Association, the PPA and the Scottish Newspaper Society. But publishers and editors of The Independent, Financial Times and Guardian have not given it their support.
Backers of the press Royal Charter hope to force a rethink from the Government and a formal consultation – arguing that it is unprecedented for a Royal Charter to be used to impose new regulations on a largely resistant industry.
The Privy Coucil comprises the Queen (who heads it), Lord President Nick Clegg and three other as yet un-named Government ministers. It normally makes its decisions based on advice from the relevant government department.
The Newspaper Society said in a statement: “The press’s proposed Royal Charter has been backed by a number of senior MPs and Peers, and has the support of the overwhelming majority of the country’s national, regional and local newspapers and magazines. According to an opinion poll published today, it also has the clear backing of the public.”
A Survation survey published today on behalf of the industry-backed Free Speech Network asked respondents whether the new press regulation system should be set up in a way that gives politicians the final say if and when changes need to be made. Some 15.8 per agreed with this but 66.5 per cent said it should be set up in a way that does not give politicians the final say.
Under the cross-party Royal Charter a two thirds majority of both houses of Parliament is needed to change it. Under the industry plan, the Charter can be changed with the unanimous agreement of the Recognition Panel, the regulator's board and the publishers.