PR leaders back newspapers in battle over press regulation

The PR industry fears politicians could gain control over the media if the Government's press regulation proposals are aproved, a survey has found.

The Guardian: Editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger called the Government proposals "medieval"
The Guardian: Editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger called the Government proposals "medieval"

The PRCA’s Leaders Panel of agency bosses and in-house comms directors discovered that 73 per cent are dissatisfied with the Government’s draft royal charter for press regulation.

The news comes after the Government announced its plans earlier this month, which were agreed by the three main parties after months of discussion.

These include powers to impose seven-figure fines on UK publishers, demand apologies and create a low-fee complaints system.

A royal charter covering the proposals will go to the Privy Council on 30 October, following the council's rejection of the industry’s charter earlier this month.

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of PR industry leaders believe that the Government should not have rejected the press’ suggestion for the royal charter and 78 per cent believe there is a danger of politicians controlling the media under the current proposals.

The all-party charter states that any changes to regulation would require a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

At a London Press Club debate earlier this week fears were raised about the impact of the move on investigative journalism, while Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger called the Government’s proposals a "medieval piece of nonsense".

However the proposals have been defended by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who said the deal would safeguard the freedom of the press.

PRCA director general Francis Ingham said: "There is clearly concern within the industry that the current plan does not provide sufficient protection against further interference by politicians.

"A free press holds the PR industry and those that it represents to account, and we believe that the healthiest environment for our industry is one where there is public trust in our communications."

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