Ofcom said an effective model would need to have clear objectives and funding, as well as 'transparent processes'

Credit: Matt Biddulph on Flickr. Some rights reserved

The press industry could find "an effective model of self regulation", broadcast regulator Ofcom has advised, but reinforced the importance of any new body getting "all major industry players under its umbrella".

In a submission to the Leveson inquiry earlier this month and published today, Ofcom said an effective model would need to have clear objectives and funding, as well as "transparent processes" offering easy access to its services and the power to investigate, enforce and sanction.

The regulator added that in reference to membership and governance of a new body "a minimal enabling statute – or recognition in statute" may need to be considered.

"Depending on the efficacy of proposals brought forward for addressing such concerns in a self regulatory model, the greatest need for some form of recognition in statute would be in relation to securing sufficient incentives to promote universal membership, because a new regulatory body which does not bring all major industry players under its umbrella would be unlikely to be able to establish public credibility.

"We would also recommend consideration of similar recognition in statute of the principles of independent governance and periodic auditing of effectiveness.

"In making these observations we note and recognise the risk that any statute in this area creates the possibility that, once in place, legislation could be amended at a future date in a way that could be to the detriment of the independence of the press and to freedom of expression."

Other recommendations put forward by Ofcom in its submission include "a periodic independent review of effectiveness".

"Ultimately, the importance of public confidence in the press cannot be overstated.

"Confidence in a system can be undermined very quickly by the actions of individual commercial enterprises acting against the interests of the industry as a whole. An effective regulatory mechanism which builds public trust is in the interest of the press as well as the public."

Ofcom also highlights the need for a new press regulator to be aware of the ever-evolving digital arena.

"A single cross media regulator would almost certainly be undesirable. However it would be important that different regulatory bodies work together to ensure that there are common and consistent principles applied across digital media. The aim should be to simplify where possible."

In its submission Ofcom added that it is not itself "seeking to regulate the press".

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