The UK PR industry has come out largely in favor of the recommendations made in Justice Brian Henry Leveson's report on press ethics.
In his 2,000-page report, Leveson said the press must create a major self-regulatory body, independent of serving editors and underpinned by statutory legislation.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has subsequently told the House of Commons that he has “serious concerns and misgivings” about new laws.
The UK's CIPR industry group backs the prime minister's stance on legislation, stating that “without a free and open press, the public relations profession would be hindered in upholding its commitment to transparency, accountability, and professional standards, as outlined in the CIPR's code of conduct.”
The organization pointed out that any new body tasked with regulating media activity “must understand and support the role that blogs and other social media play as outlets for individual freedom of speech and expression.”
The CIPR also supported the recommendation that police press officers should be present at briefings and discussions between senior police officers and representatives of the media.
“This acknowledgement of the expertise and support provided by public relations professionals underlines the need for them to be accountable to a code of conduct as well,” it said.
A Public Relations Consultants Association's survey of PR MDs and communications directors has also shown that the PR industry supports the general aims of the Leveson Report.
A slim plurality (43%) of the 110 respondents agreed with Leveson that the press should be regulated by an independent, self-regulatory body that is underpinned by statutory legislation.
However, sizeable minorities favored a model that involved either a newspaper ombudsman (31%) or giving the existing Press Complaints Commission tougher powers (26%). No respondents favored strict statutory regulation.
PR industry leaders demonstrated a greater consensus that the impact the results will have on the PR industry will be positive or significantly positive (52%), with only 18% believing it will have a negative or significantly negative impact.
There is also strong agreement (74%) that the report's recommendations will lead to an improvement in media standards in the UK. Only 3% felt the recommendations would lead to a decline in press standards.
“The press should take the problem away from the government by creating quickly a new self-regulatory body that all are signed up to,” said PRCA director general Francis Ingham. “However, the regulatory body must have the powers to incentivize good behavior.”
This article originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.