Black: “hard and fast evidence”
In its first survey of its “customers”, the Press Complaints Commission has found that of 347 people whose complaints were investigated in 2002, 61 per cent felt they were dealt with “very thoroughly” and 59 per cent “very satisfactorily”.
PCC director Guy Black gave an early insight into the survey and a Mori poll on the public’s awareness of the commission at the annual Newspaper Press Fund lunch on Thursday. “For the first time we have hard and fast evidence,” he asserted.
Out of the investigated complaint responses:
61 per cent thought their complaint was dealt with “very thoroughly” or “thoroughly”;
73 per cent believed the time it took to deal with their complaint was “about right”;
59 per cent said their complaint had been handled “very satisfactorily” or “satisfactorily”.
Satisfaction among those whose complaints had been resolved was even higher at 90, 87 and 92 per cent respectively.
Just under 70 per cent of the total responding were individuals whose complaints raised no breach of the Editors’ Code or where an offer of remedial action sufficed.
The Mori poll found that:
Only 4 per cent had ever had cause to complain about personal media intrusion in a newspaper or magazine article, while 3 per cent had complained about a radio or TV programme.
80 per cent had heard of the PCC, with more then one in eight among them knowing “a lot or a fair amount” about it.
52 per cent identified “quick resolution to complaints” as a benefit, with 40 per cent adding that it should be free. Sixty-four per cent said the PCC should be funded by the press, with only 12 per cent identifying taxpayers – the statutory option – and 7 per cent, complainants themselves.
“The success of the Editors’ Code is demonstrated, not by the number of breaches of it – themselves a tiny proportion of the millions of stories published by British newspapers and magazines each year – but by the stories that do not appear,” insisted Black.
“The proof of the pudding is, regrettably from the point of view of those seeking empirical evidence, in the stories about private lives that are never published; intrusive pictures that do not see the light of day; the schoolchildren who are not interviewed; the victims of sexual assault who are not identified; the grieving individuals who are not harassed by reporters.”
The Mori poll was conducted among 2,058 UK adults, aged 15 and over, between 23 and 27 January.
By Jean Morgan