Friday, 8 July 2011

We need a press watchdag with teeth not just a yap

We now are all well aware that self regulation of the Press has been a failure.

This morning both David Cameron and Ed Miliband this morning called on the Press Complaints Commission to be ditched.

The Prime Minister said:

"The PCC has failed. In this case [hacking] it was absent, ineffective and lacking in rigour. It lacks public confidence. We need a new system entirely."

While the Labour leader said:

"It failed to get to the bottom of the allegations about what happened at News International in 2009.
"Its chair admits she was lied to but could do nothing about it. It was established to be a watchdog. But it has been exposed as a toothless poodle.
It is time to put it out of its misery. The PCC has not worked. We need a new watchdog. There needs to be fundamental change."

The thing is many of us have known the problem with the PCC in the past, as indeed I have often blogged. It doesn't offer any real threat, it acts retrospectively and it is self-regulating, coming from the editors themselves shepherding their fellow editors.

Ed's call for a new watchdog misses the fact, what we have is a watchdog that has no bite. We need to give a bite, they have to be able to act quickly. Act not just at the behest of an individual wronged, as now, but in the interests of good, fair and just practise in reporting. It has lacked the rigour as the Prime Minister has said because the leaders of the big two parties have failed to come down hard on the papers and media tycoons, because they rely on these press barons to get their point across.

When Vince Cable said he was going to declare war on Murdoch, he was immediately removed from the front lines of his own department making a decision because the Prime Minister didn't want anyone with cajones to take on the media bosses to endanger his position, especially as his press advisor at the time was a former Murdoch employee.

Let's not shut down the PCC and create the PCC on Sunday that is a Murdoch trick. Let us turn the PCC into a body independent from the press, give it real powers to intervene and punish, whilst also allowing a free press, and allow it to act swiftly.

1 comment:

  1. Seems to me we need a campaign here, Stephen, not just a blog. Avaaz may or may not be interested, but why not set a one up?