HomeInsightsPress Regulation and the Royal Charter – What Next?

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So what were the key differences?

Political involvement

The Government has said that the cross-party charter cannot be amended by Parliament unless the changes proposed have the backing of two-thirds of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. While that is currently true, this requirement could itself be amended by a future Parliament.  The press industry proposal sought to avoid this risk by removing the role of Parliament and providing that any changes should require the unanimous decision of the newspaper industry trade bodies, the regulator and the recognition panel that would audit it.

In response to criticism that the Press Complaints Commission had been run by Conservative peers in the past, the cross-party charter included a ban on any peer, unless they have had no party affiliation within the previous five years, from acting as a Director on the regulatory board. The press industry proposal  would have allowed peers to act as Directors.

Recognition Panel – a  place for former editors

Under the cross-party charter, former editors will be banned from serving on the recognition panel, the body which will monitor whether newspapers are being regulated properly.  The press industry proposals allowed former editors to serve on the panel, and contained an additional requirement that at least one panel member should have newspaper industry experience.

Apologies

Although both charters give the regulator the power to require publication of corrections and to impose fines (in the case of the cross party proposals, up to £1million) only the cross-party charter allows the regulator to force a regulated entity to publish an apology.  The press industry proposal was limited to allowing the regulator, during mediation, to try and persuade the regulated entity to publish an apology.

Arbitration

The cross-party proposal obliges the regulator to establish an arbitration service that complies with the Arbitration Act 1996, ensuring that a binding free arbitration service will be provided for victims, and a fast complaints system will be established to ensure all individuals can afford to pursue action against publishers.  The press industry was (and is) naturally wary that a free service will lead to a surge in claims for damages.  Their proposal provided that the regulator may, but was not required to, establish an arbitration service together with an annual report and annual statement, including information as to the extent the arbitration service had been utilised.
  
If you would like any further information, please contact Caroline Kean or Amali de Silva.

 

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