Richard Desmond's titles excluded from PCC regulation following unpaid levy
Press Standards Board of Finance said today's move was 'a last resort' following Northern & Shell's decision not to pay PCC subscription fee
The Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBof), the body responsible for the financing of the PCC, said will exclude Richard Desmond's media group as "a last resort" following an alleged decision by the group to not pay a levy to support the commission.
This means titles including the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Star on Sunday and OK! Magazine will no longer be covered by the work of the PCC.
"This deeply regrettable decision to exclude Northern & Shell from the system was taken only as a last resort following the publisher's decision not to pay the industry levy which funds the work of the PCC," Lord Black of Brentwood, chairman of PressBof, says in a statement.
"Payment of this levy is a vital sign not just of a publisher's commitment to the Code of Practice and the ethical standards contained in it, but also of a commitment to the protection of the public, as it is the levy which allows the PCC to deal with complaints it receives free of charge."
Following the announcement, a number of media body representatives pledged their support to the commission.
"Over 1000 regional and local newspaper titles subscribe to the self-regulatory process and agree to be bound by PCC decisions for the benefit of the public. For the regional and local media sector it is business as usual – independent and responsible journalism subject to adjudication by the PCC," Georgina Harvey, president of the Newspaper Society, said in a statement.
"The magazine industry totally supports the PCC and the UK's self-regulatory system," Barry McIlheney, CEO of the PPA added.
"It provides a unique service to readers and ensures we meet the highest possible standards."
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors said that "the vast majority" of editors in newspapers and magazines support the Editors’ Code and the PCC.
"They recognise the value of the system to their readers and therefore to journalism and the industry itself. Knowing that newspapers and magazines uphold a strict code of practice has improved confidence in the press which is vital when so many vested interests seek to undermine its work in informing the public.”
PressBof claims that this is the second time that Northern & Shell has decided not to pay the voluntary industry levy.
"Every effort was made by the PressBof Board to reverse that decision before Northern & Shell's membership of the system lapsed on 31 December 2010," the statement adds.
According to the PCC "a refusal to support the self-regulatory system financially means that a newspaper publisher effectively withdraws from the PCC's formal jurisdiction, which the PCC considers regrettable."
In a statement the PCC said it will continue to assist individuals to frame their complaints about published articles and will direct them to the relevant departments of the titles within the group.
It also says it will "endeavour to resolve amicably its current workload of investigated complaints where possible".
In a statement, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, Baroness Buscombe said the decision by Northern & Shell is "disappointing".
"This means that they will not now be able to demonstrate to their readers that they are committed to adhere to the set of standards which are independently enforced by the Commission. We hope that they will resume their subscription to PressBof as soon as possible."
Northern & Shell declined to comment.
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