The first detailed analysis of the press industry’s own plan for press regulation – the scheme proposed by the papers to the Leveson inquiry – indicate that it would be dominated and controlled the big newspaper companies and would barely be an improvement on the discredited Press Complaints Commission.
The study of the so-called Black plan by the Media Standards Trust, which can be read in full here, leaves little doubt that the aim of editors and proprietors is to give the appearance of independence to their proposed new body, but to retain for themselves the power to be judge and jury in their own court.
It identifies ten serious failings:
- It is not (as advertised) a ‘new system entirely’
- It is not independent
- It maintains the dominance of the key vested interests
- The incentives to participate will damage journalistic freedom
- A news organisation can effectively buy itself out of the contract
- It is unwieldy, bureaucratic, and significantly under-costed
- Its powers of sanction are limited and unspecified
- Third parties will find it as hard as before, if not harder, to complain
- It remains mediation not regulation
- It has a five-year sell-by date
As well as these flaws, it is important to remember that the plan has already been rejected by the victims of phone hacking and press abuse in a letter to David Cameron. Read their arguments against the proposals here.