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Jonathan Dimbleby says: Don't give the politicians this much power

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

March 18, 2013 | 3 min read

Jonathan Dimbleby, one of the most respected names in British media, is vehemently opposed to the new press deal.

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Dismayed."

Dimbleby, veteran BBC broadcaster and chairman of campaign group, The Index on Censorship, said creation of Britain’s first official newspaper regulator for 300 years marks a “sad day for press freedom”.

Dimbleby said he was “dismayed” that politicians will now get power over the regulation of newspapers.

"The board has the gravest anxiety at the residual political powers the now expected outcome and system will give to politicians,” he said.

“The two-thirds block on any changes to the royal charter could be abused in the future – not least when today’s emerging consensus shows that the parties can come together in both houses to agree on press regulation.”

Roy Greenslade, ex-Mirror editor and Guardian columnist "applauds the cleverness of a political fix that sees all royal charters underpinned by law" says the introduction to his blog in the Guardian.

That sounds as if he likes the whole idea.

He then writes, "So, with one bound, the triumvirate are free. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have found a way to enshrine press regulation in law without appearing to have instituted formal statutory underpinning.

"The cleverness of their deal is that shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman was able to say that it means the press regulator will be enshrined by statute. And it also allowed culture secretary Maria Miller to say that the regulator is not enshrined by statute."

There is however a note of caution in Greenslade's panegyric. "But there is a long way yet to go in this affair because, despite this political fix, the industry has still to decide on the details of the regulator.

"Aside from the fact that there is no clear indication whether publishers and editors will accept the politicians' neat decision, they are still divided over the structure of the new regulation body."

Greenslade's last word: "More soon."We look forward to that .

A spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said: “A government-established regulatory body, regardless of how independent it is intended to be, could pose a threat to media freedom.

“I still believe that self-regulation is the best way to deal with ethical lapses and failures to comply with professional standards.

“The phone-hacking scandal was a criminal issue and the people involved are being prosecuted. This should not be used as an excuse to rein in all print media.”

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