Desmond's titles ejected from PCC regulation

Richard Desmond’s newspapers and magazines have been ejected from regulation by the Press Complaints Commission after failing to pay their subscriptions to thebody.

The PCC said today it now considers titles published by Desmond-owned Northern and Shell as outside its jurisdiction.

The decision means newspapers include the Daily Express and The Star and magazine OK, New and Star are no longer covered by the Editors’ Code of Practice which underpins the work of the PCC.

The press watchdog issued a statement saying it would be unable to deal formally with new complaints about Northern & Shell titles until the funding dispute is resolved.

“The Commission will continue to assist individuals to frame their complaints about published articles and will direct individuals to the relevant departments of the titles within the Northern & Shell group,” the PCC said.

“The PCC will endeavour to resolve amicably its current workload of investigated complaints where possible.”

Subscriptions from magazine and newspaper owners help pay the £2m a year running costs of the PCC and are collected by the Press Standards Board of Finance (Pressboff).

Peta Buscombe, PCC chairman, said: “It is disappointing that Northern & Shell no longer wishes to provide funding for the PCC and be part of the system of self-regulation.

“This means that they will not now be able to demonstrate to their readers that they are committed to adhere to the set of standards which are independently enforced by the commission.

“We hope that they will resume their subscription to PressBof as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, the PCC will continue to work to consider complaints against all other major publishers, both national and regional.

“We will also continue our proactive programme to offer guidance on editorial issues and train journalists within the system, and to raise standards in the industry.”

Following statements from the PCC in relation to Desmond’s titles, groups representing other national, regional and local papers and magazines today reaffirmed their support for the current system of self-regulation.

Clive Milner, chairman of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, said: “The PCC exists to ensure national newspapers conform to clear editorial standards which are independently regulated.

“All NPA members are committed to upholding this system of press self-regulation which protects and serves members of the public so effectively and maintains a free, responsible press.”

Georgina Harvey, president of the Newspaper Society, said: “Over 1,000 regional and local newspaper titles subscribe to the self-regulatory process and agree to be bound by PCC decisions for the benefit of the public.

“For the regional and local media sector it is business as usual – independent and responsible journalism subject to adjudication by the PCC.”

Michael Johnston, president of the Scottish Newspaper Society, said: “The raison d’être of the PCC is a deep-seated belief in the importance of freedom of the press and thus in self-regulation.

“It is illogical for any publisher to withdraw from the system and thereby deny readers of his publications the right to an independent means of resolving complaints.”

Barry McIlheney, CEO of the PPA, said: “The magazine industry totally supports the PCC and the UK’s self-regulatory system.

“It provides a unique service to readers and ensures we meet the highest possible standards.”

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