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Guardian position on press regulation shifts as editor Rusbridger urges government to allow self-regulation while charter is "tweaked"

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

March 25, 2013 | 3 min read

The Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, has called on the government to allow the newspaper industry to set up its own self-regulation system in response to the royal charter proposals on press legislation.

Shift: The Guardian had looked likely to back current proposals

The Guardian had been previously seen as one of the most likely titles to back the government agreement after the publication of the Leveson report into press ethics, but in a piece published inThe Guardian on Monday, Rusbridger said: "The advocates of reform - including the Guardian - should be unenthusiastic about endorsing a messy compromise with unintended consequences and with the prospect of years of stalemate in the courts and with the regulator itself.

Rusbridger proposed the press industry be allowed to set up a self-regulation system while the government simultaneously formed a recognition body to audit the regulator every three years.

He continued: "Allow the system to bed in for a year or so and for a dialogue between regulator and recogniser about what works and what needs tweaking. Then, and only then, think about wrapping it all up in a royal charter.

"People may by then have a clearer idea of the value of an endorsement by Buckingham Palace. A charter should in other words seal the deal, not describe it."

The Independent and the Finanical Times had also looked likely to back legislative reform initially, although the Financial Times appeared to waver when it said last week that it had not yet decided on its position. Private Eye and The Spectator were the first publications to refuse to sign up to the charter and the latest development from the Guardian leaves the government proposals in further doubt.

The Drum recently launched the British Press Creative Challenge, in which creatives were challenged with designing a campaign for a fictitious newspaper body to remind the public about the value of a free press.


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