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Lord Black says PCC should have the power to fine errant newspapers

By Hamish Mackay

February 2, 2012 | 2 min read

The chairman of the body that funds the Press Complaints Commission has declared the media watchdog should have the power to fine errant newspapers.

The Guardian reports that Lord Black, chairman of the Press Standards Board of Finance, told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards yesterday that he was historically opposed to fines for newspapers.

However, he said the phone-hacking affair convinced him that the PCC needed urgent reform and new powers.

The Guardian quotes him as saying: "It took a scandal like that to show us we needed a new body to enforce the editors' code of practice.

"I certainly now believe that some form of fining system would be appropriate ... It's [phone hacking] that has led me to a change of view ... That is the most obvious example of why urgent reform of the system is needed."

Black, who is also an executive director of Telegraph Media Group, admitted he was "surprised" that the industry had formed a consensus around a reformed PCC with beefed-up powers.

He added that some of the proposals could be "potentially painful" for the regional press.

However, he told the inquiry that the industry needs "radical proposals" for change to stave off the threat of statutory regulation.

Asked by Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, whether the industry had coalesced around the proposals through a fear of something worse, Black said: "If there isn't change to the regulatory regime ... the threat of statute is there. [The appetite for change] is a combination of both of those."

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