The PCC has responded to an article by journalism professor Julian Pentley, which said that the body is not a regulator.
The ‘Press regulation? Now there’s an idea’ article by the professor of screen media and journalism at Brunel University, published on the New Left Project website, said: “the PCC is not, and never has been, a regulator – it’s merely a body which deals with complaints about the press, the equivalent of the customer services department of any large corporate organisation.”
The article then went on to discuss the history of the PCC, and how the body “constantly slips between describing itself as a mediator and a regulator”.
The PCC director of communications, Jonathan Collett, has today replied to this article. He began: “Julian Petley's article "Press Regulation? Now there's an idea" (24th August 2011) was a lively read but I'm afraid it was undermined by being based on several false premises.”
He continues: “Julian Petley is obviously wrong to try to characterise the PCC as merely a mediator and not a regulator. He is wrong to suggest there is nothing in the PCC's Articles of Association to suggest it performs a regulatory function when those articles actually specifically state that the PCC has responsibility to: "consider and pronounce on issues relating to the Code of Practice which the Commission, in its absolute discretion considers to be in the public interest".”
The response concludes: “Statutory regulation like that advocated by Julian would be too restrictive and too dangerous to democracy. It would lose all the benefits of the non-adversarial, responsive and adaptive system that self-regulation has brought. Government involvement in press regulation has been resisted around the world. Indeed the PCC has been seen as a model of best practice. Do we really want Britain to regress in this way?
“Since 1991 the PCC has consistently adapted and evolved. Now is the moment for it to change again. There are lots of things in the current system that need to be retained and which work very well -but this is an opportunity to see what needs to be changed. The PCC recognises the need for fundamental change and very much hopes to find common cause with advocates and critics alike in forming a consensus on how best to preserve freedom of expression and protection of individuals.”