13 May 2004 – The revised edition of the Press Complaints Commission Code contains nothing which is either startling or radical. It is the same warmed-over gruel of pious promises, which in the past have done little to abate misbehaviour on the part of newspapers seeking profit.
The suggestions we have made, based on 10 years careful observation of the way self-regulation is being implemented and acknowledged by chairman Sir Christopher Meyer as deserving consideration, have either not been seen or have been ignored. We have certainly received no response from the Commission.
Once more we have fine words, but nothing that will persuade a doubting public that self-regulation means any more than a light slap on the wrist for making money out of ‘mistakes’ in breaching the Code. Complainants who want real satisfaction will still be forced to take to the courts, seeking retribution under the Human Rights Act or the libel laws; expensive solutions which, in practice, are only open to the rich and/or famous.
We hope the PCC will become more rigorous in its review of procedures for dealing with complaints. We have supplied a lengthy set of suggestions, and will shortly be publishing a book, Satisfaction Guaranteed? which will explain what complainants want of self-regulation. On current evidence we seem to be whistling in the dark, but just for the record, you can read our submission to the PCC here.
Bill Norris and Charlotte Barry
Associate Directors, MediaWise
(Bulletin No 102)