PCC needs to undergo wide-ranging reform, says MST

The Press Complaints Commission needs to undergo wide-ranging reform to meet the expectations of the general public, according to a media charity.

The Media Standards Trust has submitted 28 recommendations to the PCC’s own governance review which it believes would make the organisation ‘more effective, more accountable and more transparent while maintaining the key principles of self-regulation.”

The findings of an Ipsos MORI survey, commissioned by the MST and claiming the PCC needs to be more pro-active in investigation of potential breaches of its editors code, forms the basis of the submission.

The charity’s recommendations include intervention where there is significant public concern about wrongdoing which would also see the watchdog accept complaints from any source – except where they run contrary to the interests of an individual in privacy and intrusion cases.

It also wants the press watchdog to monitor compliance with the code and assess breaches and remedies with reference to a newspaper’s track-record while also placing a financial value on an adjudication which would be reflected by the size and prominence of the publication’s correction.

An independent self-regulator would also be expected to ensure that it complied with best practice on freedom of information, particularly ensuring transparency of funding and decision-making processes, the MST said.

The charity also wants to see the introduction of a clear right of appeal for newspapers and complainants.

These new elements, along with a series of others, would be served better if the PCC was renamed the ‘Press Standards Commission’, the MST added.

Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust, said: ‘The Press Complaints Commission was established to act as a newspaper and magazine complaints mediation body.

‘Since then public expectations, fuelled by the media, have changed.

‘The public wants an independent self-regulator that, in addition to mediating complaints, monitors compliance with the code and conducts regular investigations. The PCC, as currently constituted, does not and cannot do this.

‘This submission outlines ways in which the current system can be reformed so that it can meet public expectations of independent self-regulation.”

A spokesman for the PCC said: ‘It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the MST’s submission to the independent PCC governance review.
‘The independent review group looking into the PCC’s governance arrangements will consider their submission along with others and will announce its recommendations later this year.”



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