PR industry comes out in favour of Leveson report

The PR industry has come out largely in favour of the recommendations made in Lord Justice Leveson's report into press ethics.

Lord Leveson: published press report yesterday
Lord Leveson: published press report yesterday

In his 2,000-page report, Leveson said the press must create a major new self-regulatory body, independent of serving editors, underpinned by statutory legislation.

Prime Minister David Cameron has subsequently told the Commons that he had ‘serious concerns and misgivings’ over bringing in laws.

The CIPR backs the Prime Minsters 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 CIPR 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 PRCA survey of PR MDs and comms directors has also shown that the PR industry supports the general aims of the Leveson Report.

A slim majority (43%) of the 110 respondents agreed with Lord Justice Leveson that the press should be regulated by an independent, self-regulatory body that is underpinned by statutory legislation.

However, sizeable minorities favoured a model that involved either a newspaper ombudsman (31%) or giving the existing Press Complaints Commission tougher powers (26%). No respondents favoured 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.

Francis Ingham, PRCA director-general, said: ‘The press should take the problem away from the Government by creating quickly a new self-regulatory body that all are signed up to. However, the regulatory body must have the powers to incentivise good behaviour.’

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