Arab Today, arab today the press complaints commission is to be shut down in uk
Last Updated : GMT 09:13:50
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

The Press Complaints Commission is to be shut down in UK

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today The Press Complaints Commission is to be shut down in UK

London - Arabstoday

The Press Complaints Commission is to be shut down after 21 years, closing one of the most controversial chapters in the history of self regulation of the UK newspaper industry. The watchdog, which was fatally wounded by its response to the phone-hacking scandal, has confirmed that it will formally close and be replaced with a transitional body which will take charge of press regulation until a new system is set up in the wake of the Leveson inquiry. The long-term replacement for the PCC is not expected to be up and running for at least a year and may not be in place until 2014 if statutes are needed for a proposed arbitration unit offering a libel resolution service. In the meantime the newspaper industry has decided that closing the existing self-regulatory body will offer the press a clean break from the past and an opportunity to regain the confidence of the public. An accelerated shutdown of the PCC was agreed earlier this year and formally approved at a meeting of the commission on Wednesday. The PCC chairman, Lord Hunt, told Sky News at the end of February that a decision in principle to move to a new body had been taken. "So we're very much now on the front foot and listening to all sides and determined to bring forward the sort of independent self-regulatory structure that everyone will approve of," he said then. The name of the new body and its structure have not been finalised but Hunt said the parts of the PCC that had worked would be retained, including the complaints resolution service. "I'm determined that we should make sure that we still keep those procedures which 80%, 85% of people who have used them have found so helpful – pre-publication action and various other ways," he said. He confirmed that the industry was working on long-term proposals for a replacement regulator which would have three units: one dealing with standards and compliance, one representing complaints and mediation and one offering legally binding solutions to libel complaints through arbitration. The libel unit is creating the most debate at the Leveson inquiry. Legally it is not clear if a cheap and quick libel service can be set up without statutory changes. The industry is divided between those who accept that some form of statutory underpinning for the new regulatory system is needed, and others who warn that it would be a slippery slope towards government control of the press. Significant questions remain about whether a regulator can force a potential litigant to accept arbitration instead of taking court action. Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, is among those who have warned that a self-regulated arbitration unit would not be attractive to big City firms or Russian oligarchs who have the money to fund high court libel actions, which can cost newspapers millions to defend. Lord Justice Leveson is expected to publish his findings in October and may recommend some sort of statutory regulation to enable a new body to include a legally binding libel arbitration arm. The Liberal Democrats are pushing for parliamentary time to be reserved early next year to discuss the Leveson report so potential legislation could be introduced into parliament the following year.

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