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PPC Jeremy Hunt

Culture secretary hints at new regulatory body for the press

By Hamish Mackay

November 30, 2011 | 3 min read

Culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has hinted that the Government could be contemplating introducing a regulatory body to handle press complaints.

The Guardian reports that, Hunt, giving evidence yesterday to the Lords communications committee inquiry about the future of investigative journalism, said he thought, in light of the phone-hacking scandal, that most people agreed that regulatory processes for accuracy needed to be changed.

The Guardian quotes Hunt as pointing out that he did not want to cut across Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media ethics, but said that "looking at events so far… you'd be likely to conclude we'd be likely to have a successor body to the PCC that's better at enforcing standards of accuracy".

Hunt added: "I don't think investigative journalism is under threat", and pointed out that it is "important" and one of the "absolutely essential parts of a free media".

He praised the now defunct News of the World for breaking the cricket spot-betting scandal and the Daily Telegraph for uncovering the MPs' expenses story.

However, he said he was not sure a "particular ownership model results in more investigative journalism".

"If you asked me [what] the biggest threat [is], I would say that it is the potential lack of profitability in the sector," Hunt commented.

Hunt said he had asked his advisers to look at the local newspaper market ahead of the forthcoming communications act.

"I think it's clear to me the local newspaper sector needs to consolidate and develop new business models. I'm a big champion of local media.”

He also said he expected some licences for new local TV services, the first tranche of which are due to be awarded next summer, to be awarded to consortiums containing local newspaper groups.

PPC Jeremy Hunt

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