Royal Charter hit by delays as press pushes alternative proposal and Hacked Off makes accusations of misrepresentation
The signing of the government's Royal Charter on press regulation has been hit by a delay as the newspaper industry prepares to make an application to the Privvy Council for an industry-led Royal Charter.
Publishers of local and regional newspapers, including Newsquest Media Group, Trinity Mirror and Johnstone Press, confirmed their backing for the alternative charter following a Newspaper Society earlier in the month, which revealed more the 90 per cent of the country's local titles were in support.
The news came after the industry body issued a letter to culture secretary Maria Miller in April expressing concerns at the effect on an "expensive, burdensome regulatory structure" on smaller titles.
Report: The Leveson Inquiry looked at press ethics
The society will make an application to the Privvy Council for the grant of a Royal Charter for the independent self-regulation of the press.
President of the Newspaper Society, Adrian Jeakings, said: "Any system of voluntary self-regulation by definition requires the support of the industry coming together to be regulated.
"We in the regional and local press believe this is vital is we are to maintain a free press in this country with the ability to hold authority to account - the message of local newspaper week coming up next week.
"Local newspaper publishers have been fully involved in drawing up the Independent Royal Charter proposal and fully support it."
The UK government published its Royal Charter proposals in March following the Leveson report into press ethics. The draft charter immediately hit problems when The Spectator and Private Eye became the first titles to indicate they would not sign up to it.
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An alternative charter was subsequently drawn up by big industry titles including Telegraph Media Group, News International, Express Newspapers and Daily Mail owner Associated Newspapers.
However, campaign group Hacked Off claimed the Newspaper Society's interpretation of the government's proposals on self-regulation for local and regional titles were misrepresentative and said victims of the press expected the government to hold firm on its plans.
"All three party leaders promised the victims of press abuse that they would deliver a system which would meet the standards laid down by the Leveson Report," said Hacked Off associate director, Evan Harris.
"Only one of the Royal Charters is compliant and this is the case by a mile. Victims expect all of the parties to stand by their leaders' promises. Press reform has been overdue for decades."
A statement on the Hacked Off website said a government source indicated the government's view on the Royal Charter had not changed.