New UK press regulator could pose a threat to freedom of expression, says OSCE media freedom representative
VIENNA, 18 March 2013 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, expressed concern today about an agreement to establish an agency to regulate print media in the UK.
The new independent regulator, established by royal charter, could force newspapers to issue apologies and impose fines.
“A government-established regulatory body, regardless of how independent it is intended to be, could pose a threat to media freedom,” Mijatović said. “I still believe that self-regulation is the best way to deal with ethical lapses and failures to comply with professional standards.”
At the moment, print media in the UK has the right to join a voluntary self-regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission, which has come under criticism in the wake of the hacking scandal by some British media.
Mijatović underlined that the British tradition of self-regulation is regarded around the world as a best practice, adding it should not be sacrificed because of flaws in its application.
“The phone-hacking scandal was a criminal issue and the people involved are being prosecuted,” Mijatović said. “This should not be used as an excuse to rein in all print media.”