HomeInsightsChairman of Independent Press Standards Organisation, Sir Alan Moses, delivers speech to Society of Editors’ conference, saying the “essence of successful press regulation … is that it is voluntary”.

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Speaking in Carlisle at the Society of Editors’ conference on 18 October 2016, Sir Alan warned his audience of what was at stake in terms of the thorny subject of press regulation: “a vibrant local and regional press which bears the true mark of what makes it viable and precious…its independence”.  Independence is what readers value most, Sir Alan said, and “it is they and all of us, who have most to lose and who will suffer without a press free from control, regionally and nationally”.

Sir Alan continued: “You should be very wary, very wary indeed of anything that looks like an attempt to corral you into submission: government, the powers that be, want to goad you, prod you into doing what they want”.

On s 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which provides that a newspaper that is not a member of an approved regulator risks having to pay a claimant’s court and legal costs even if the newspaper wins the case, Sir Alan said that the “real and underlying danger of section 40 … lies not in the purpose which it proclaims…that your regulator should be recognised by a body paid for by the State … but a far more fundamental and underlying current: that it is intended to herd you, force you into something you do not want to do”.

Sir Alan continued: “The essence of our press is that it cannot and should not be forced into doing anything it does not choose to do. If it acts under compulsion it is indeed doomed”.

According to Sir Alan, “the essence of successful press regulation … is that it is voluntary” and that regulation of the press will never work if it is compulsory.  Sir Alan recognised that with that freedom comes the risk and dangers of abuse, but said that those dangers should be “balanced against what I believe to be the far greater dangers of a country and of regions without an independent untamed regional and national press”.

Sir Alan noted a “curious paradox about the press: however good you are at communicating, however fearless you sometimes show yourselves to be, you are not so good at communicating about yourselves at telling your readers what life without you would be like …”.  Sir Alan encouraged his audience to keep going, “despite the threats to your existence”.  To read Sir Alan’s speech in full, click here.

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