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Meyer: Newspaper cutbacks risk ’emasculating’ PCC

By Paul McNally in Bristol

The newspaper industry needs to keep up its investment in the Press Complaints Commission or the principle of self-regulation will be ’emasculated’, PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer has warned.

Addressing the Society of Editors conference in Bristol this morning, Meyer said it was vital that the industry worked together to fight off “the monstrous regiment of judges and lawyers” looking to exercise more control over the press.

“If you do not want regulation by the State or the European Commission or some hideous amalgam of the two, then for God’s sake make it clear to your readers that this resource [the PCC system] is there. You don’t do it enough,” Meyer told delegates.

“The industry is going through very tough times. People are making cuts, jobs are going, all this is tragic but to be expected. Should the regulator funded through a levy on the industry take pro-rata the same kind of cuts?”

Meyer added: “I would argue that to a very very large degree, if you want your regulator to rise to the challenge, do not emasculate it now for quite separate economic reasons.

“The PCC is not a trade association. It is a public service. It will not survive unless it can do the business. It will not be able to do the business if it takes swingeing budget cuts.”

Meyer said the currently regulatory structure – where the BBC Trust, Ofcom and the PCC sit alongside each other – “cannot last very long”.

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“It’s a very strange beast, like a camel with four humps,” he said. “You can bet your bottom dollar as things change there will be a lot of sniffing round regulation in Brussels.

“Although the State have all said we support self-regulation, we can’t be sure what the response will be like two or three years from now.”

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