british pm to urge editors on press watchdog
Last Updated : GMT 18:08:33
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

British PM to urge editors on press watchdog

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today British PM to urge editors on press watchdog

London - AFP

British Prime Minister David Cameron will meet national newspaper editors and owners next week to urge them to agree a timeframe for setting up a new press watchdog, a government spokesman said Saturday. The meeting follows proposals set out by judge Brian Leveson in a major report into press ethics in Britain, conducted in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch\'s News of the World, which was published on Thursday. The meeting, on Tuesday, will be hosted by Maria Miller, the culture minister who has responsibility for the media. Miller will appeal to the powerful group not to \"drag its feet\" in establishing a new regulator, the culture ministry spokesman said. Cameron hopes the new body will help quash claims that a new law is needed to make it truly effective. The main agenda will be trying to \"set a timeframe for a response\" from the newspaper industry to Leveson\'s recommendation for independent self-regulation of the press, the spokesman added. Britain\'s press currently regulates itself through the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), a body staffed by editors. Its critics say it is toothless and partly responsible for a failure to punish journalists for harassment, invasion of privacy and the hacking of voicemail messages. Parliament will debate Leveson\'s proposals on Monday afternoon when Miller will make a statement to fellow lawmakers, the spokesman added. Miller\'s special adviser Joanna Hindley told AFP that Miller would press the newspaper industry figures to come up with a timetable for setting up a new regulator \"within a few weeks\". \"She will be holding their feet to the fire,\" Hindley said, adding that Miller would tell the industry \"that the status quo is not acceptable.\" Hindley confirmed that Richard Desmond, proprietor of the mid-market Daily Express and Daily Star tabloid, would be at the meeting. Desmond, one of Britain\'s most controversial media barons, owns a media empire that includes celebrity magazine OK!, Channel 5 television and several adult channels. Hindley said Miller will lead further cross-party talks on the Leveson recommendations on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Cameron\'s government is divided on the future of the press. The Liberal Democrats, junior partners in the Conservative-led coalition, said they would join forces with the opposition Labour party and support a new law. The rift was sparked by the publication of Leveson\'s report which proposed a new independent self-regulatory body backed by law. Leveson proposes a beefed-up watchdog staffed by independent members, with the power to fine newspapers up to £1 million ($1.6 million, 1.23 million euros). While Cameron warned that legislation could threaten press freedom, his deputy Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, insisted statutory oversight was essential to guarantee the independence of the new watchdog. \"Hacked Off\", a group for victims of press intrusion, says over 89,000 people have signed its online petition which calls on Cameron, Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband to work together to implement Leveson\'s findings in full. The petition was launched on Friday.

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