Research into public opinion
5. Partly to measure how successful the
PCC's strategy has been to date, and partly to assess how we might
most effectively deploy resources in the future, the PCC commissioned
some opinion research in January 2003 to look at:
public knowledge about the Commission;
the problem of media intrusion; and
what members of the public expect
of a body like the PCC.
6. The full results of this poll conducted
by MORI among a representative sample of 2,058 adults aged 15
and over in the United Kingdom between 23 and 27 January are set
out in Appendix X.
7. They underline three key factsthat:
very few people have themselves been
personally affected by breaches of newspaper ethics;
despite which, the Commission is
a widely recognised name with significant numbers of people knowing
of its existence; and
the public believes the key characteristics
of a newspaper complaints system are that it should seek quickly
to resolve disputes, and that this service should be free to the
public, paid for by the newspaper industry. That is, of course,
exactly what the PCC delivers.
8. Numbers affected by inaccurate or intrusive
reporting. The poll asked whether individuals themselves had ever
had cause to register an official complaint about an article or
programme that related to them personally.
The overwhelming majority93%had
never had cause to complain.
Only 4% had ever had cause to complain
about a newspaper or magazine article, while 3% had about a radio
or TV programme.
9. Name recognition of regulatory authorities.
The representative sample was also asked what it knew about different
media regulatory bodies. The survey suggested that there was a
high name recognition for the Press Complaints Commission.
Eighty per cent of the sample had
heard of the PCC. Fourteen per cent knew a lot or a fair amount
about it, 33% knew a little, while the remainder knew little but
had heard of the organisation. Given how many people are directly
affected by media intrusion (see para 8), this is an encouraging
By way of comparison, just 23% had
ever heard of the telephone chat line regulator ICSTIS, and only
54% had heard of the Radio Authority. Name recognition for the
Broadcasting Standards Commission was very similar to the results
for the PCC.
10. Running a complaints system. Individuals
were asked a number of questions about the service of the PCC
and what they expect from a complaints handling system.
Questioned about the most important
characteristic of a media complaints organisation, 52% replied
"quick resolution to complaints" with 40% adding that
it should be free.
Asked specifically on who should
fund the Press Complaints Commission, the overwhelming majority64
%said the newspaper and magazine industry. Only 12% thought
it should be paid for by taxpayersthe statutory optionwhile
7% thought it should be funded by a levy on complainants.
11. The PCC notes these findings, in particular
the fact that the public seems to support the basic characteristics
of a self regulatory system with speed at its heart, and that
people are by and large aware of the PCC's existence. But there
is always more to do. We will therefore use these results to target
our information work even more effectively, and to act as a benchmark
for further improvements
SECTION DPUBLIC INFORMATION
D (2) RAISING
1. The Commission recognises that some members
of society are more likely to feature in newspaper and magazine
articles because of national or international events, or because
they are part of minority groups about whom there is curiosity
or even ignorance. Moreover, vulnerable people may feel intimidated
about "taking on" a newspaper by complaining, even if
they have a legitimate complaint. But the protection of the vulnerable
is crucial to our workand it is important in these circumstances
for the Commission to ensure that, in case things do go wrong,
these groups are aware of the Code and enabled to complain. This
Section outlines this part of the Commission's public information
strategy, including which groups are targeted for special advice
and what the Commission does to help them. We also set out how
we complement this work with key adjudications on complaints.
Those affected by coverage of refugee and asylum
2. Newspaper scrutiny of such issues is
intense, and coverage voluminous. Where newspapers highlight individual
cases the people concerned can be particularly vulnerable. Not
only is there the fearbased on reality or otherwisethat
critical coverage might provoke hostility against them, but there
is also the problem that asylum seekers might well not have the
language skills to be able to complain about the coverage.
3. The Commission therefore embarked in
1998 on a strategy to make sure that representatives of asylum
seekers had as much knowledge as possible about how to deal with
the media and, if necessary, complain. In particular, the Commission
contacted and visited regional Refugee
Councils and maintained close links with them;
engaged in dialogue with the National
Coalition of anti-Deportation Campaigns;
participated in the Refugees, Asylum
and the Media (RAM) forum;
liaised with local authoritiessuch
as in the Midlands, in Scotland and on the South Coastwhich
have a high concentration of asylum seekers in their boroughs;
translated the Code into a range
of suitable languages to make the complaints process easier. 
4. In addition to underlining the importance
of making complaints to the process of raising standards, the
dialogue with these groups has also helped the Commission to appreciate
the range of issues involved.
5. The Commission has entertained a number
of complaints from the representatives of asylum seekers. Section
B3 sets out how newspaper standards can be raised through the
issuing of adjudications. To that end, the Commission has made
a number of key adjudications aimed at improving the coverage
of such matters. These include:
Kenewa v Sunday Mercury, Report
50. The Commission made clear that although a local newspaper
was entitled to report on a local authority's policies towards
housing asylum seekers, it must not be to the detriment of the
children of the family at the centre of the article. It concluded
that as "the subject of the article was clearly very sensitive
and likely to provoke a strong reaction in some people" the
newspaper should have taken more care to protect the privacy of
Harman and Harman v Folkestone
Herald, Report 47. The newspaper was criticised for using
a photograph out of context to imply that police in riot gear
had raided a house where some refugees lived. In an important
adjudication the Commission "took the opportunity to remind
editors of their responsibilities in covering such topics and
of the danger that inaccurate or misleading reporting may generate
an atmosphere of fear and hostility which is not borne out by
A reader v Daily Express, Report
56. The Commission took the opportunity of this complaint
about a comment piece to issue guidance to editors to the effect
that "editors must make sure that material is accurate and
that comment is distinguished as such; that there is no discrimination
on the grounds of race or religion against a named individual;
and that when disputes of fact do arise a fair opportunity to
reply is given."
6. It is clear that many of the objections
to reporting on asylum matters relate to accuracy, rather than,
as is widely believed, discrimination. Newspapers have a valuable
role in educating members of the public about this subject and,
given the potential impact of inaccurate reporting in this volatile
area, it is essential that complaints are forthcoming whenever
a significant inaccuracy in reporting is spotted. To this end,
the Commission has pledged to continue its ongoing programme of
liaising with asylum groups to ensure that the disadvantaged status
of those who they represent is not a barrier to their right to
complain. This issue is further discussed in Annex 3.
7. The number of communities and individuals
affected by all aspects of the reporting of racial issues is potentially
overwhelming. Despite this, the Commission has made meaningful
contact with key organisations to ensure that we are aware of
the media issues most important to the communities they represent
and that awareness of the Commission's service is tirelessly promoted.
8. Those groups with whom we have been in
contact recently include:
the Creative Collective;
the Ethnic Media Group;
Commission for Racial Equality;
9. As the Commission is primarily a dispute
resolution service, its success in regulating media coverage of
issues relating to racial concerns is measured in no small part
by the complaints that have been resolved. Recent examples include:
complaints against four national
and regional newspapers from the parents of a boy from an ethnic
minority who was identified as suffering from suspected tuberculosis.
The newspapers explained why the child was identified and apologised
for any distress caused;
a woman from Exeter who complained
that an article and accompanying editorial had contained inaccurate
and pejorative references to her degree course. The editor apologised
for any offence caused to the complainant and invited her to submit
a letter for publication;
a Councillor's complaint on behalf
of a constituent about the inaccurate reporting of a charge of
aggravated racial harassment. The newspaper published a full correction
and apology alongside a photograph of the complainant.
10. The PCC also liaises with the CRE on
a regular basis and former Chairman Lord Wakeham presented a keynote
speech on the media and race at the CRE's Race in the Media Awards
in 1996. Meetings have also been held with the Home Secretary's
Race Relations Forum.
11. We recognise there is still much to
do and further initiatives are planned for 2003, including:
attendance at a Chinese in Britain
Forum conference in Birmingham in February;
publication of an article in the
Chinese in Britain Forum newsletter;
further meetings with refugees' organisations.
12. While the Commission's staff have been
meeting with representatives from the Muslim community since 1998,
dialogue with this group of people has been particularly appropriate
and constructive since September 2001. There is much concern among
the Muslim community about some aspects of reportingparticularly
in connection with the ongoing war on terrorism.
13. Specifically, the Commission:
attended the Muslims in the Community
conference in Manchester in 2002;
meets regularly with Muslim Councils
all over the country;
is represented on the Media Consultative
Committee Working Group organised by the Muslim Council of Britain
and chaired by Lord Weatherill.
14. It is essential that the Commission
continues to develop its co-operative working relationship with
Muslim groups and the Commission will continue to seek opportunities
to engage in dialogue with them.
The travelling community
15. Although not currently prominent on
the national news agenda, the Commission is aware that issues
surrounding travelling communities remain sensitive in individual
localities. The Commission has established contact at a national
level, to ensure that our service is promoted throughout the travelling
community, and in the regions where appropriate. Included in the
Commission's programme to liaise with community leaders have been:
attendance at the Third Annual Conference
on Traveller Law Reform;
contact with ACERT (Kent Traveller
attendance at meetings of the Traveller
Law Reform; and
visits to various Travellers' groups
in Northern Ireland.
16. The Commission has considered one specific
complaint on this issue when it adjudicated on a complaint lodged
by Asylum Aid, Cardiff Gypsy Sites Group, Dr Evan Harris MP and
others against a number of articles published in The Sun in
The Commission took the opportunity to outline its general policy
in this area. It stated that:
"The Commission recognises that in covering
such topics there is a danger that inaccurate or misleading reporting
may generate an atmosphere of fear and hostility. Although it
did not find in this case that the complaints were justified,
it took the opportunity to remind editors of their responsibilities
under the Code to avoid discriminatory reporting".
17. While the complaint was not upheld the
success of its reminder to editors can be measured by the fact
that no further complaints about the issue have been made to the
18. The Commission has undertaken to maintain
links with the travelling community.
19. The Commission is in regular contact
with the emergency services for obvious reasonsthe sort
of incidents that they cover are very likely to end up being reported
in newspapers. They often care for victims of crime or accidents
and relatives of the deceased. It is the Commission's priority
to protect such vulnerable groups of people from inaccurate or
intrusive reporting and newsgathering. Liaising with local emergency
services can therefore provide a direct route to those people.
To this end, the Commission has in 2002 been in contact with or
met, among others:
the Association of Chief Fire Officers
Kent Police Press Officers;
Forensic Science Service Press Office;
Coroners' Society, in whose annual
review an article on the Commission's work was published (See
Appendix XI) (not printed);
Leeds Bereavement Forum;
the Scottish Police College;
Regional Victim Support groupsincluding
exhibiting at their national conference.
20. The purpose of such dialogue is to ensure
that problems can either be prevented entirely or dealt with directly
by editors, ensuring that a formal investigation into a matter
is a last resort at such difficult times.
21. Nonetheless, the Commission has recently
dealt formally with an important complaint from one of the emergency
services. In 2002 the Commission upheld a complaint against the
London Metro from Thames Valley Police on behalf of a rape victim
who had been identifiable from information contained in the article
(although her name and address was not published).
22. In most similar cases, however, the
Commission is in a position to resolve problems quickly. Details
of resolved complaints from 2002which can be found in Appendix
Ireveal that many of the complaints made to the Commission
concern accidents, emergencies or untimely deaths. However, a
few examples are included here:
articles discussing the World Trade
Centre attacks in the Mail on Sunday and Hello!
putatively identified an individual in a photograph of the twin
towers. Both publications published prominent apologies to the
family of the individual;
a woman complained that reports of
the death of her father in the Newbury Weekly News and
the Newbury and Thatcham Chronicle contained inaccurate
and insensitive details. The editor wrote personally to the complainant
to express his regret at any distress the article had caused;
the parents of a young man who died
in a club complained that an account of the tragedy in The
Sun (Scottish edition) contained inaccuracies. The editor
wrote personally to the complainant to apologise for the errors,
and a clarification and apology was published in the newspaper.
23. The Commission already has a number
of further relevant meetings planned for 2003, including one with
North Wales police, military, emergency services and local authority
press officers in February.
24. The Commission recognises that older
members of society may find the complaints procedure problematic
for a number of reasons. Some may suffer from the physical effects
of old age. These individuals have benefited from initiatives
undertaken to make it easier to find out information about the
Commission and to lodge complaintsincluding our Textphone,
our large print and our audio literaturewhich are detailed
in Section A3.
25. In addition, the Commission has established
communication with a number of organisations that represent the
interests of the elderly. In particular, Commission staff have
attended conferences arranged by Help the Aged Conference and
talked to the University of the Third Age. This dialogue ensures
that our procedures are promoted to this potentially vulnerable
section of society.
26. The Commission has used its adjudications
to reinforce the rights of the elderly. In A man v Daily Mail,
Report 58, the Commission made clear that residential homes
for the elderly where residents were supervised for medical conditions
were "hospitals or similar institutions" in the sense
of Clause 9 (Hospitals) of the Code.
Those affected by mental illness
27. The Code pays particular regard to individuals
affected by mental health issues in a number of Clauses. While
the provisions on accuracy and privacy apply here equally as they
do to all members of society, Clause 9 (Hospitals) covers "similar"
institutions, and Clause 13 (Discrimination) refers to prejudicial,
pejorative or unnecessary reference to mental illness. These two
specific references emphasise the care journalists must exercise
when researching and writing on potentially sensitive mental health
28. The Commission has long recognised the
particularly vulnerable position of people suffering from mental
health problems and has done what it can to help to change the
climate in which such matters are reported. In 1997 the Commission,
following a fruitful dialogue with the Mental Health Act Commission
under Dame Ruth Runciman, issued a Guidance Note which identified
the sort of language that would be inappropriate when describing
sufferers of mental health conditionsincluding those who
had committed criminal offences. The Guidance Note is attached
in Appendix XII (not reproduced here).
29. The Commission has also undertaken other
work in this area, including:
attending discussion groups with
Mental Health media;
an address at a Capita on mental
illness and the media;
a visit to Broadmoor and a Question
and Answer session with the Patients' Council there;
visits to Mental Health Trustsincluding
Homerton Hospital in Hackney; and
meetings and regular liaison with
the mental health charity MIND, as well as the Mental Health Act
30. A landmark adjudication in 1997 set
out the Commission's strict approach in dealing with discriminatory
reporting of mental health matters. Adjudicating on an objection
to pejorative language in Time Out magazine, the Commission
concluded that, although intended to be humorous, a columnist's
remarks "had misfired. They were clearly distressing to the
elderly and to those with mental health problems. As such, this
was clearly not in the spirit of . . . the Code, or of the Commission's
own guidance on the portrayal in the press of person's with mental
illness" (Peck v Time Out, Report 40).
31. The strength of self-regulation over
any form of legal regulation was underlined when the Commission
considered a complaint from the mother of a 17 year old boy, details
of whose mental health problems had been given in a court case
and which, legally, the newspaper was entitled to publish. However,
the Commission made clear in its adjudication that the Code affords
greater protection to such vulnerable people than the law and
upheld the complaint. (A woman v Hastings and St. Leonards'
Observer, Report 41).
32. On the back of these complaints, the
former Chairman of the Commission, Lord Wakeham, outlined how
far reporting of mental health issues had improved over the years
and how standards could be raised further in a conference on these
issues in February 2000. He underlined, in particular, the benefits
of a conciliatory complaints process:
"editors and journalists can sometimes have
the same irrational fears that others have. You can change their
views by explaining things to themnot in a hostile or even
very public manner, but by taking things up with them when they
have got something wrong, and explaining what the consequences
of inaccuracy or discrimination are" (Capita Conference,
London, 24 February 2000).
33. In that vein, the Commission has also
successfully resolved a number of complaints in this area. One
recent example concerned a complaint from Trafford Mental Health
Advocacy Service on behalf of a client that an account of a previous
relationship had contained inaccuracies and intruded into her
private life, and that she had been harassed. The magazine apologised
and undertook to ensure that the article would not be published
again by agreeing not to circulate it to any other publication.
34. The Commission has worked to encourage
a culture of accurate and informed reporting on mental health
matters. It is reassuring to note that the MIND Annual Media Awards
have lauded the increasingly informed and sensitive treatment
of mental health issues in the press, a view which chimes with
the Commission's own private monitoring of the situation.
35. The Commission has plans for a further
set of visits to Special Hospitals this yearin particular
a return to Broadmoor and a visit to Ashworth.
36. Those who are resident in hospitals
or similar institutions are protected by Clause 9 (Hospitals)
of the Code. This covers methods of newsgathering in such environments
and reminds publications that "the restrictions on intruding
into privacy are particularly relevant to enquiries about individuals
in hospitals or similar institutions".
37. Among other measures designed to heighten
awareness of the Commission in the NHS, representatives from the
regularly attended the NHS annual
met representatives of local Trusts
when PCC regional tours have been underway (See Section D3); and
written articles for NHS managers
such as the Health and Community Care Journal (See Appendix XIII)
(not reproduced here).
38. Buttressing the rights of those in hospitaland
also the rights of hospitals as institutionsthe Commission
has previously upheld complaints about approaches by journalists.
The Code directs journalists to identify themselves to a responsible
executive in order to obtain permission to enter non-public areas.
There are in fact very few breaches of the Code in this area and
the Commission has had cause to uphold just two complaints on
this subject since 1996 (see Section C2).
39. In this area the Commission has benefited
in particular from the wide range of health expertise among current
and lay members of the Commission. These include Lord Chan (Paediatrician
and Director of the NHS Ethnic Health Unit 1994-97), Vivien Hepworth
(former Chairman of the Surrey & Sussex Health NHS Trust),
Arzina Bhanji (Dental Surgeon and former Director of the Royal
Hospitals NHS Trust), Dame Ruth Runciman (former Chairman, Mental
Health Act Commission), and Professor Lesley Rees (Dean of St.
Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College 1989-95). The significant
contribution of the health sector among the PCC's lay membership
underlines the importance attached to this area.
The Gay community
40. Although society is of course changing
in its attitudes towards homosexuality, the Commission recognises
that homophobia still affects many gay people. There may be some
delicate issues affecting gay peoplesuch as employment
tribunals, matters of health and parentingthat might lead
to complaints about the press. However, some gay people might
be reluctant to complain, being either fearful of how a newspaper
might react or perhaps embarrassed about the subject matter of
41. The Commission therefore took the opportunity
of an invitation from the editor of Gay Times to write
an article for the magazine addressing the Clauses of the Code
that might help its readers and setting out how the Commission
has previously dealt with complaints about gay issues. The article
is reproduced in Appendix XIV (not reproduced here).
42. In addition, the Commission has upheld
or resolved a number of complaints about issues concerning gay
The Commission upheld a complaint
against The Sun in 1997 about an article that confused
comment and fact in a critical piece about gay lifestyles.
It upheld a complaint in 2002 from
a pregnant lesbian, concluding that matters to do with her health
that the newspaper published were intrusive.
It resolved a complaint from four
gay people who complained that an article in a Scottish newspaper
intruded into their children's privacy.
It also resolved a complaint from
Hampshire Constabulary on behalf of an officer about misleading,
intrusive and discriminatory material in a report on a potential
support network for gay, lesbian and bisexual officers. A newspaper
that published an article which included pejorative references
to his sexuality was persuaded to resolve the matter.
Transsexual and transgendered community
43. Following concerns about the reporting
of issues involving the transsexual and transgendered community,
the Commission contacted a number of interested organisations
to explain how the Code applied to the special concerns of this
group in society.
44. Specifically, members of the Commission's
attended meetings with the Crosslinks
transsexual group in Glasgow to explain to community members at
a grass roots level how a good complaint can be made out, what
individuals can expect from the Commission, and how to encourage
positive reporting on these issues;
attended the Beaumont Society Annual
Conference, where they debated how newspapers report issues involving
the transsexual and transgendered community and explained how
the Commission could be best used to raise standards in this area;
written an article in the Tartan
Skirt, a magazine for Scottish transgendered people. The article
is attached in Appendix XV (not reproduced here).
Schools and children
45. This submission makes clear how the
Commission and the Code give strong protection to children. (See
Sections B2 and 3, and C2 and 6). It is important that schools
are aware of their rights under the Codedetailed in other
Sectionsand how to complain if things do go wrong.
46. This area is covered in many of our
significant number of meetings with local authoritieswhich
are set out in more detail in Section D3many of which are
responsible for education and social services.
46. In addition to our local authority work,
the Commission has arranged a meeting with the Secondary Heads
Association for early 2003, and has a rolling programme of co-operation
with the Independent Schools Council and various children's charities.
47. For some years now the Commission has
embarked on a strategy of identifying particularly vulnerable
groups of people for whom complaining might be an ordeal. It has
undertaken a range of initiatives to help such people, to educate
them about the Code and to maintain fruitful communication with
them. This strategy has been successful in generating complaints
and helping the vulnerable in their relationships with the press,
and is something that the Commission is committed to pursuing.
D (3) TAKING
THE PCC OUT
1. One of our aims is to ensure that people
from every region of the country know about the work of the PCC
and are able to complain. A regional breakdown of complainants
shows a fairly even geographical spreadbut
there is always more to do. That is why we are committed to taking
information about the PCC to the countries and regions of the
UKwhich involves attendance at a wide range of regional
conferences, discussion forums and other interested groups. Many
of these are concerned with the interests of vulnerable groups
and are outlined in Section D2 above.
2. In 1998 the Commission embarked on a
co-ordinated programme activity across the country to promote
the work of the PCC at the local level. The core of these visits
are meetings with local authorities, local voluntary groups and
so on. In conjunction with these meetings the Commission undertakes
interviews on local radio and television, holds information sessions
at libraries to talk to people, and establishes and maintains
contact with key local groups. In each case our aim is to:
explain the work of the PCCand
that its service is quick and free;
raise awareness of the Code;
explain how people can get in touch;
highlight our services both with
groups of vulnerable people and organisations such as local authorities
who represent many different interests (including, importantly,
schools and social services) that might have cause to complain.
3. The Commission is keenly aware of the
need to ensure its services are known to the people of Scotland.
The Scottish press is different from that of the rest of the UK
in some important waysalthough it is bound by the terms
of a Code which is universally applicableand it is right
to recognise that.
4. That is why there is always one editor
from Scotland on the Commissionalong with lay members such
as Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill and Jenny Brown of the Scottish
Arts Council. Elizabeth Smith now serves on the PCC's Appointments
Scottish editors also sit on the editors' Code Committee, and
Scottish publishers on the Press Standards Board of Finance. The
special interests of Scotland are therefore very well represented
throughout the self-regulatory system.
5. Currently, one in 10 complaints come
from Scotlandand separate statistics about the Scottish
press and the outcome of these complaints are published in the
Annual Review. However, we can always do more to publicise our
work and this Section sets out how we do it.
6. To begin with, the PCC has a special
Scottish Helpline0131 220 6652to ensure that individuals
ringing us from Scotland can do so at the cost of a local call.
This number is widely publicised.
7. Recognising the importance of the Scottish
language to an admittedly small group of people, the PCC also
publishes its Code in Gaelican initiative that was welcomed
by Comunn na Gáidhlig.
8. In the past few years the Commission
has co-operated with a variety of different groups in Scotlandin
addition to liaison with individual newspapers there. For instance,
in 2002 the PCC:
attended the Citizens Advice Bureaux
Scotland Conference in Dundee and exhibited there;
undertook seminars with Aberdeenshire
met with the Students Association
and Rector of St Andrews University;
undertook training seminars with
the Scottish Police College in Lothian.
9. These visits in 2002 were part of an
ongoing programme of information, which in previous years has
talks to Glasgow, Edinburgh, and
Inverness City Councils, with displays at the local libraries
in those areas;
interviews with BBC Radio and Scot
FM about the PCC;
attendance at the Scottish Parliament
Conference in Edinburgh; and
liaison with Comunn na Ga"idhlig
prior to publication of Code in Gaelic.
10. Copies of our Bulletins and half yearly
Reports are also sent to all Members of the Scottish Parliament.
11. A number of meetings for 2003 have already
been scheduled, and the Commission is keen to maintain links with
key organisations in regular meetings, as well as establishing
new contacts in Scotland. Our programme for the coming year and
meetings with the Scottish Civic
a seminar with Glasgow City Council;
attendance at all the Scottish party
12. As with Scotland, the press in Northern
Ireland faces its own set of challengesand the Commission
is keen to ensure the people there have full access to our services.
The PCC was particularly pleased in 2002 when Edmund Curran, Editor
of the Belfast Telegraph, became the first editor from
the Province to serve on the Commission.
13. A recent roadshow in Northern Ireland
covered the cities and provinces of Belfast, Derry, Omagh and
Coleraine. Commission representatives met with the local councils
in these regions, exhibited in relevant local libraries and promoted
the visit on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Foyle.
14. In addition, the Commission has held
constructive meetings with:
a number of Belfast groups representing
the interests of the Travelling community in Ulster;
Steer, a mental health information
group based in Derry; and
the Equality Commission of NI.
15. In 2003 we will undertake further meetings
in Northern Ireland. A meeting with PR practitioners in Northern
Ireland is already scheduled, under the auspices of the Institute
of Public Relations, at a seminar in Newry and Mourne in March.
The North of England
16. The Commission is keen to spread information
about itself across the regions of England as welland,
again, targets its resources on groups and organisations to which
potential complainants might turn for help.
17. In 2002 the Commission undertook a number
of engagements in the North of England. This included:
seminars with Copeland, South Lakeland,
Allerdale, Carlisle and Eden local authorities as part of a Cumbria
roadshow (which took place in the wake of the "Foot and Mouth"
displays at relevant local libraries
and Citizens Advice Bureaux;
attendance at the Local Government
Authority conference in Harrogate; and
seminars and meetings with Granada
TV in Manchester to discuss some of the issues relating to more
high profile complaints.
18. In previous years, other important work
in this part of the country has also included:
the National Association of Citizens
Advice Bureaux Conference in York;
meetings with Yorkshire Television
seminars with Liverpool and Manchester
local authorities during a North West roadshow; and
exhibitions in local libraries in
Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, promoted by BBC Radio interviews.
19. The Commission has two main visits to
the North of England planned for 2003. It is hoped that these
major projects will establish new contacts as well as strengthening
existing links with key organisations in these regions. Plans
a Leeds and Sheffield roadshow to
include meetings with local authorities, media, libraries and
Citizens Advice Bureaux; and
a programme of seminars and exhibitions
in the North East encompassing meetings in Newcastle, South Shields,
Sunderland and Gateshead.
20. As set out in Section A2 (para 12),
the Commission is keen to expand on its information programme
in Wales to complement the work the PCC has already undertaken
21. As part of its commitment to Wales,
the PCC publishes its Code and information on how to complain
in the Welsh languagesomething that is promoted on every
tour. From time to time, the PCC will receive complaints in Welsh
and is always happy to handle them accordingly.
22. A recent roadshow in South Wales resulted
in meetings with the following organisations:
City Councils in Newport, Cardiff,
Bridgend and Swansea;
an exhibition at local libraries
in these cities in conjunction with BBC Radio interviews; and
attendance at the Media and Film
2002 Conference in Cardiff.
23. The Commission has also exhibited at
the Welsh Local Government Association Conference in Llandudno.
24. In 2003, we are hoping to shore up existing
contact in both North and South Wales with two major roadshows.
A North Wales roadshow planned for
February will include meetings with Conway, Denbyshire, Gwyneth
and Anglesey local authorities, accompanying libraries and CABx.
The South Wales roadshow in mid-Spring
will establish contact with the Welsh Assembly Press Office, and
will involve meetings with local councils and CABx and library
We will also attend a meeting of
the six North Wales local authority press officers, including
liaison with police and emergency services in those areas.
25. The Commission has established firm
links with the UK's second largest city. Our first roadshow to
Birmingham in 2000 included local authority and press visits,
library displays and three radio interviews. A year later we followed
up this visit with a second roadshow. In addition, Commission
representatives met with other local authorities, combined with
26. The Commission has arranged extensive
visits throughout the rest of the Midlands in recent years, including
Nottingham roadshow, involving talks
to Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council,
library exhibition, BBC Radio Nottingham interview and meetings
with local press;
meetings with County Councils in
Shropshire and Leicestershire;
English Speaking Union in Leicestershire;
participation in Nottinghamshire
Police "Veto on Violence" Conference.
27. In 2003 we plan to take the roadshow
to Derby and surrounding areas.
The South of England
28. The Commission has recently undertaken
roadshows in key parts of the South of England most affected by
issues relating to asylum seekers and refugeesthis
included a tour of Kent, including Shepway and Dover District
Councils, and other local authorities in the area.
29. In addition, the Commission has over
the last few years undertaken a comprehensive programme of meetings
with local authorities across London and the South of England.
the London Boroughs of Brent, Hackney,
Bromley, Redbridge and Hounslow;
Wiltshire County Council;
Hampshire County Council;
West Sussex County Council;
Hertfordshire County Council;
Gloucestershire County Council; and
Bedfordshire County Council.
30. Last year, the PCC undertook a roadshow
in Norwich, involving meetings with Norfolk County and City Councils
and the central Citizens Advice Bureau, and live phone-in on BBC
Radio Norfolk to promote library exhibition.
31. Plans for 2003 include seminars and
exhibitions as part of a roadshow in Devon and Cornwallas
well as ongoing initiatives in London and the rest of the South
of England. A separate tour is planned for the Isle of Wight and
the Channel Islands.
32. This Section has demonstrated the wide
range of activities the PCC has undertaken to take information
about itself to the countries and regions of the UKwork
to which we continue to be committed. The map on the following
page underlines the point by highlighting those areas of the country
the PCC has recently covered.
D (4) TRAINING
1. In 1993, the National Heritage Committee
made the very sensible recommendation that the training of journalists
"would fall suitably within the remit of the Press Commission".
The task, of course, fell to the PCCand it has been our
clear aim since then to create a culture in which the next generation
of journalists is versed in the terms of the Code and the important
issue of press ethics. The Commission therefore now plays a largeand
ever-increasingrole in the training of journalists across
2. This involvement has, in turn, been fostered
and encouraged by the industry itself. Newspapers now expect their
journalists to have a grounding in the terms of the Code of Practice
and an awareness in the procedures of the PCC. The commitment
therefore exists to raise professional standards within a framework
that the PCC has established.
3. One good example of the importance of
the PCC's role in training is apparent in the assessment structure
of the National Council for the Training of Journalists. The NCTJ
has placed awareness of the Press Complaints Commission and the
terms of the Code as a necessary criterion before a journalist
can be qualified. Below is reproduced the relevant section of
its performance criteria for examinations, which must be fulfilled
by the trainee to ensure that he or she "has demonstrated
the ability to establish and maintain professional relations with
members of the public".
"Awareness is shown of the newspaper's
important role in the community.
Awareness is shown of the principles
of the Press Complaints Commission and of the codes of practice
of the PCC and other organisations.
A responsible and objective approach
is shown in writing about crime and its effect on victims.
Responsibility and objectivity are
shown in writing about racial matters and ethnic minorities.
Responsibility and objectivity are
shown in writing about disabled people.
Office policy is followed on confidentiality
of sources, treatment of information offered off the record, and
if and when to conceal one's identity.
Inquiries, comments and complaints
from members of the public are handled according to office policy".
4. Of course, the PCC's status as a classroom
topic would only have a limited effect without more direct involvement
by its members of staff. In fact, the PCC visits colleges regularly,
with Professor Robert Pinker, the current Acting Chairman, often
lecturing at training colleges, accompanied by an experienced
Complaints Officer or External Affairs Officer. These lectures
are always followed by discussion with the students, in which
any questions can be answered about the workings of the PCC.
5. Further information is, of course, also
available on the PCC website. A section, specifically designed
to help students, has been recently overhauled. This includes
detailed answers to frequently-asked questions, a run-down of
the development of the Code of Practice and information about
interesting cases. It is an extremely useful, and well-used, resource
which supplements and assists the colleges' teaching.
6. Issues raised on the website, or in the
colleges, can be further discussed on the telephone with a designated
and experienced Complaints Officer. The PCC always seeks to make
itself accessible and receives a number of calls from students
every week, to which it is always happy to respond.
7. The PCC is committed to its role in training
journalists of the future, in the future. 2003 will see an increase
in its college visits and a maintenance of its involvement in
all stages of the training process. It is very much aware that,
by ensuring that a generation of journalists are familiar with,
and accept the importance of, the Code of Practice, it is acting
to improve standards within the industry on a long-term basis.
Its involvement in journalist training will also ensure that the
institution of self-regulation, so crucial to a democratic way
of life, is strengthened and made increasingly effective in years
8. In recent years, the Commission has visited
the following colleges:
Brighton Centre for Journalism
Caledonian University and Bell Higher Education
Teachers' Media Conference in Cardiff
Chiswick Community School
East Devon College
East Surrey College
Guildhall University MA
Gwent Tertiary College
Hastings Editorial Centre
Media Studies VI Form conference at Camden Town
Nottingham Trent University
St Leonard's Editorial Centre
St Mary's, Blackburn
SE Essex College
University of Sussex
Sutton Coldfield College
Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds
Trinity Mirror trainee journalists in Glasgow
University of Ulster
West Herts College
D (5) MAKING
1. The Commission is aware of the importance
of promoting awareness of its services beyond those groups of
individuals who may wish to complain and the next generation of
journalists. Self-regulation of the press is an important aspect
of public policyand many interested groups at home and
abroad require information about it. The PCC's duty is to ensure
that it is available easily and quicklyand that we respond
constructively to all requests for information.
2. One of the most straightforward ways
of publicising the Commission is through the use of advertisements
in newspapers and magazines. As part of its commitment to the
system of self-regulation, the industry has undertaken to publish
regular adverts for the PCC without charge. The adverts contain
information about what people can complain about, how to complain
and how to get in touch with the Commission. New advertisementsa
copy of which is in Appendix XVI (not reproduced here)were
distributed in 2002.
3. An increasingly important part of the
Commission's strategy to make information widely known is through
the web, and the PCC is committed to maintaining a comprehensive
and user-friendly website.
4. The PCC first went online with its websitewww.pcc.org.ukin
1996. It was substantially overhauled in 2000 to improve its efficiency
and at the start of this year is now receiving an average of 240
visits per daya figure denoting considerable consumer and
industry recognition. Some of its main elements are set out here.
A complete history of all adjudications
since 1996. Users are able to search through the Commission's
decisions of the last seven years. This means that not only is
the consistency of the Commission's rulings open to constant scrutiny,
but also that interested partiesthe complainant or, indeed,
the newspapercan appreciate the context in which a complaint
is framed. Given the importance with which PCC jurisprudence is
now regarded in the industry, and indeed by the Courts, this is
an essential element of the site.
A summary of all resolved complaints
since 1996. An additional benefit of a complaint being resolved
through the Commission's offices is that a summary of the case
is published on the website. This ensures that there is a public
record of the complainant's concerns and the action taken by the
Details about how to make a complaint.
As well as details about how to submit a complaint in writing,
the site also provides an on-line complaints form (an initiative
taken in 2000), together with answers to frequently-asked questions.
This explains what the Commission can and cannot do and means
that a user will easily find all the information necessary to
make a complaint.
The Code of Practice. Complainants
will be able to identify the area under which their concerns might
fall and also get an idea of the reasoning behind, and the development
of, the Code with which newspapers are obliged to comply. The
Code in Welsh is also on the site, along with details of how to
obtain literature in minority languages.
The history of the PCC. A
whole section of the website is devoted to the constitution and
development of the organisation. It includes: details of Commission
members and the machinery by which they are appointed; key benefits
of the system; an on-line version of every annual report since
1996; and an historical overview of the last 12 years.
A student section. We have
responded to the considerable academic interest in the Commission
and the philosophy of self-regulation and developed the site accordingly.
It contains details about the organisation, answers questions
that have been frequently asked over the last few years, and generally
acts as a useful guide to all those interested in the more theoretical
aspect of the PCC.
PCC Guidance Notes. From time
to time, the Commission issues guidelines about pressing issues
that have come to its attention. A full catalogue of these texts
is on the siteon issues such as the reporting of mental
health issues or the identification of lottery winners.
Press releases and breaking news.
The site is updated regularly with all news relating to the PCC,
including importantly the most recent adjudications. People can
sign up to a mailing list to guarantee that they will receive
up-to-date information about the PCC and currently over 800 people
receive weekly news bulletins from the Commission.
Diary. All the engagements
undertaken by the office are listed.
Links. The website provides
links to useful online resources, such as other regulatory bodies
and the Citizens' Advice Bureau. Links to the PCC's website have
also been co-ordinated with a number of interested organisations,
which are listed in Appendix XVII (not reproduced here).
5. One useful site to which the PCC's site
is linkedand in the development of which, indeed, the PCC
was at the forefrontcovers Press Councils around the globe:
www.presscouncils.org. This site provides information about international
press issues and includes a forum for discussion, among registered
users, about the relevant matters associated with self-regulation
worldwide. This site will be increasingly useful for UK newspaper
readers who want to complain about a foreign publication (or foreign
newspaper website) and need details of the relevant regulatory
Lawyers and other professional groups
6. Recent developments relating to media
law, most notably the incorporation into UK law of the European
Convention on Human Rights in October 2001, are set out in detail
in Section C5. This has meant that there has been considerable
demand to address groups of lawyers and other professional organisations,
including think tanks, about the work and case law of the PCC.
There is no need to produce a full list hereit would be
voluminousbut seminars in the last few months include:
Hogarth Chambers on privacy;
S J Berwin seminar on media law and
conference organised by Justice on
the Media Law Networking Conference
Project in Oxford;
the Institute of Public Relations;
UCL conference on Human Rights, Privacy
and the Media; and
the Institute of Public Policy Research.
7. The Commission has utilised invitations
to speak at events hosted by individual organisations and civic
groups to talk about how the service it provides can make a difference
to their industries and to set out key points about its work.
By way of illustration only, the Commission has arranged and attended
conferences, seminars, private meetings and other events with,
the National Union of Students;
Chartered Accountants in Business
English Speaking Union and Probus
Clubs in East Midlands, Sussex and Surrey;
CSN conference on co-ordinating services
to the public;
English and Wales Cricket Board;
Rugby Football Union; and
Newcastle United Football Club.
8. In addition, the PCC responds to requests
from broadcasters and others who wish to discuss issues that relate
to more high profile public figures. In recent years these have
included seminars and talks to Granada Television in Manchester,
the BBC at Elstree, LWT in London and Yorkshire Television in
Liaison with the industry
9. Crucial to the proper functioning of
self-regulation is, of course, liaison with the newspaper and
magazine industry. The PCC and its officers regularly attend conferences
and training seminars across the different parts of the industry
to ensure that editors and journalists are aware of developments
in the PCC's jurisprudence. These include, again simply by way
of illustration, meetings with and speeches to:
the Society of Editors;
Periodical Publishers Association;
British Association of Journalists;
National Council for the Training
Scottish Daily Newspaper Society;
individual publishers' training conferences.
The Commission is committed to maintaining this
regular liaisonand responding constructively to all requests
for information and training.
The International Community
10. There is considerable interest abroad
in the work of the PCCas Section F outlines in more detail.
That means that the Commission receives many requests for information
and talks from the international community in London, and others
who are visiting. For instance, the Commission regularly undertakes
seminar programmes for foreign educational establishments based
in the UK, including:
University of Arkansas.
University of Missouri.
University of Nebraska.
Southern Illinois University.
University of Southern Mississippi.
11. Many other requests come through the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and over the last year the Commission
has briefed substantial numbers of individuals. A list of these
is in Appendix XVIII (not reproduced here).
12. We are mindful that the representatives
of foreign governments in the UK sometimes have need to complain
about coverage of their countries. We maintain an informal programme
of meetings with individual Embassies, which have recently included
The United Arab Emirates.
Meetings have also been organised with the European
Commission offices in London.
SECTION ESTRUCTURES AND PROCEDURES
E (1) AN INDEPENDENT
1. This Section deals with a number of issues
relating to the PCC's procedures, in particular seeking to outline
how they are as open and transparent as possible. It covers appointments,
the various structure of the self-regulatory system, sanctions,
"own volition" and third party complaints, and the issue
of media monitoring.
An independent Commission
2. It isregrettablya common
misconception that the PCC is "dominated" by newspaper
editors. Of course, newspaper and magazine editors must play their
part: it is, after all, a system of self-regulation which could
not work without input from the industry being regulated. And,
similarly, there is industry funding for the systemwhich
means that people can make complaints free of charge.
3. Butand it is a hugely important
"but"the PCC itself, the body which determines
whether or not a newspaper or magazine editor should be censured
for a breach of the Code, is dominated by lay people.
4. Since 1995, when the appointments process
was fully reformed (part in thanks to the constructive suggestions
of the 1993 Select Committee report), there has been an inbuilt
majority of "public" or lay members on the Commission.
Of 16 members, nineincluding the Chairmanare lay
people, totally unconnected with the press. Seven are senior serving
editors, or editors in chief, from across the newspaper industry.
This combination guarantees the independence of the PCC, at the
same time as ensuring that its decisions take full account of
the day to day practicalities of the industry.
5. It is worth noting here, in passing,
that no members of the full time staff at the PCCwho investigate
complaints and seek to resolvehave any connection with
the newspaper industry either (unlike the old Press Council).
How appointments are made
6. Crucial to the independence of the lay
members, of course, is the fact that they are themselves appointed
by a body which is also independent of the press. This ensures
that they are not, in any way, responsible to the industryand
that their independence is guaranteed by a clearly independent
7. To that end, the PCC maintains an Appointments
Commissionitself reformed in 1995which is responsible
for all appointments to the PCC and the Code Committee.
Editorial appointments to the PCC
are proposed through the relevant newspaper and magazine trade
associations (as set out in para 15 below) but the Appointments
Commission must scrutinise and ratify them before an editor becomes
a member of the PCC.
Lay appointments, however, have nothing
to do with the industry. Nominations come from within the Appointments
Commissionwhich decides on appropriate individuals, and
sets a term of service for them.
8. There are five people on the Appointments
Commission. Only one of these five is in any way connected with
the newspaper industryand that is the Chairman of Pressbof,
currently Sir Harry Roche (who is also Chairman of PA News).
9. The other four members are all lay people.
the Chairman of the PCC (currently
Lord Mayhew of Twysden QC (Attorney
General 1987-92; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 1992-97);
Mr David Clementi (Deputy Governor
of the Bank of England 1997-02; Chairman of Prudential plc 2002-);
Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill (Chairman,
Edinburgh Festival Fringe 1995; President of Birkbeck College,
London 1998- ; President of Scottish Opera 1997-).
10. Appointments to the Appointments Commission
are made following agreement between the Chairman of the PCC and
the Chairman of Pressbof, and individuals who serve must have
no connection with the newspaper or magazine publishing industry.
Appointments are made to ensure, as far as possible on a small
body, gender, regional and (if appropriate) political balance.
11. Previous members of the Appointments
Commission, under the Chairmanship of Lord Wakeham, have included:
Lord Irvine of Lairg QC;
12. The Chairman of the PCC is appointed
by the Press Standards Board of Finance. The PCC's Memorandum
and Articles of Association states that the Chairman must "not
be engaged in, or otherwise than by his office as Chairman, connected
with or interested in the business of publishing newspapers, periodicals,
or magazines" (para 6.2). This is to ensure that the Chairman
is independent of the industry. The current Acting Chairman is
Professor Robert Pinker, Professor Emeritus of Social Administration
at the LSE; the Chairman-designate is Sir Christopher Meyer, currently
British Ambassador in Washington, who takes up the post later
in the year. The previous Chairmen have, of course, been Lord
MacGregor of Durris (1991-94) and Lord Wakeham (1995-02).
13. The full list of current members of
the Commission is set out in Appendix XIX. In Appendix XX there
is a list of former members for information.
14. As far as possible, the Appointments
Commission seeks to ensure a fair balance of individuals on the
PCCincluding ethnic and women members, and a geographical
15. There areas set out aboveseven
editors on the PCC. These comprise individuals drawn from across
the national, Scottish, regional and periodical press, recommended
by their four trade associations, and approved by the Appointments
the Newspaper Publishers Associationwhich
nominates three national newspaper editors;
the Newspaper Societywhich
nominates two editors from the local and regional press in England,
Wales and Northern Ireland;
the Scottish Daily Newspaper Societywhich
nominates an editor from a Scottish publication; and
the Periodical Publishers Associationwhich
nominates a magazine or periodical editor.
16. Over the years, the regional editors
in particular have ensured that there has been a good balance
of regional interests on the Commission. Editors have come from
newspapers in Northern Ireland, Manchester, Newcastle, Surrey,
Liverpool, Portsmouth, Suffolk, London, Shropshire and Sunderland.
There isas noted abovealso always an editor from
Scotland: editors from there have come from Aberdeen, Glasgow,
Dundee and Edinburgh.
17. As far as the national press is concerned,
there has also been a balance to ensure representation across
publishing houses. A note on this is set out in Appendix XXI.
18. For the lay members, the Appointments
Commission seeks individuals from different walks of life who
are (a) demonstrably independent of the press and (b) of sufficient
standing to play a fully independent part in discussions at meetings
of the Press Complaints Commission on some of the complex issues
that arise from complaints. It also seeks to achieve, as far as
possible, a gender and ethnic balance.
19. Of the current eight lay members on
the Commission (there is one vacancy at the time of submission
of this Report), there are four women and four men. Two of the
eight membersLord Chan of Oxton and Mrs Arzina Bhanjiare
from ethnic minorities.
20. Lay members are from a number of diverse
backgrounds. Current membersincluding the Chairmancome
from the following backgrounds:
a Professor Emeritus of Social Administration
at the LSE;
a former Chairman of an NHS Health
a Church of England Bishop;
a former teacher, and General Secretary
of a schools organisation;
the Chief Executive of a big City
trade body representing insurers, and former Treasury civil servant;
a distinguished paediatrician from
Merseyside and former member of the Commission for Racial Equality;
a former Director General of a well
known consumer organisation; and
a dental surgeon who is a former
Director of a large Health Trust in London.
E (2) CODE COMMITTEE
1. Both the Code of Practice Committee and
the Press Standards Board of Finance (Pressbof) are likely to
make separate submissions to the Committee. This short Section
is just to set their own roles in the self- regulatory system
The Code Committee
2. As it set out in Section B, the Code
is kept up to date and practical by a Committee of national, regional
and periodical editors. These are nominated by the same trade
associations set out in para 15 above and appointments are approved
by the Appointments Commission. A list of those currently serving
on the Code Committee is set out in Appendix XXII.
3. As with the Commission's editorial members,
the industry has sought to ensure a good regional balance among
the Committee's members. Current members come from Bradford, Portsmouth,
Rotherham, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Aberdeen. National editors
also come from a broad range of publishers. A note on this is
in Appendix XXI.
4. To ensure smooth liaison between the
PCC and the Code Committee, the Chairman and Director of the Commission
attend its meetings in an ex-officio capacity. The Commission
also has a small sub Committee of lay members which takes part
in the consultation process on any potential changes to the Codeprincipally
because it is the independent Commission which has to ratify the
Code before any changes are made to it.
5. Over the years the Commission has made
a number of its own proposals for changes to the Code to the Committee,
as a result of its own handling of complaints. One set of important
changes, for instance, came about when the Commission asked the
Code Committee to extend the range of Clause 5 (Intrusion into
Grief and Shock) of the Code so that it could deal with more complaints
about the publication of material at such times.
6. The Press Standards Board of Finance
co-ordinates the industry side of the system of self-regulation.
It is responsible for the appointment of the Chairman of the Commission,
the collection of revenue to fund the PCC, overseeing the Code,
ensuring appropriately balanced editorial recommendations for
the Commission and nominations to the Code Committee are made
to the Appointments Commission, and dealing with public policy
issues that may impact on the industry's own self-regulation.
7. The main liaison between Pressbof and
the Commission is, of course, over revenue. Pressbof's own mechanisms
for raising revenue are entirely separate from the PCC which has
no involvement in, or knowledge about, the matter. The PCC submits
a detailed budget, agreed by the members of the PCC's Business
Committee (which is made up of lay members), to Pressbof once
a year to fund its activities for the coming year. Although the
PCC is of course responsible to the Board for meeting that budget,
and answering questions about areas of expenditure, Pressbof has
never interfered with the PCC's own spending plans, as an independent
body, and has always met the requests made of it generously and
in full. Without that commitment, the PCC could never meet the
high standards of service that are set out in Section A, or fulfil
the substantial programme of public information that is detailed
in Section D.
E (3) SANCTIONS
1. One consistent theme recurs in any criticism
of self-regulationindeed it was the leitmotiv for the 1993
Select Committee reportand that is the alleged lack of
sanctions available to the PCC. This Section outlines the strength
of the system as it stands, and addresses those criticisms.
2. The original blueprint for the PCC's
system of sanctions came from the Calcutt Report. As such, this
was in line with the sanctions available to what was then the
Broadcasting Complaints Commission which, although a statutory
body with legal force, had no power to fine but to issue adjudications.
(Indeed, neither does its successor the Broadcasting Standards
3. Allied to this was another recommendation
of Calcuttthe abolition of the old Press Council's so-called
"legal waiver." Under the Press Council, complainants
were asked to waive their right to legal redress. No such waiver
exists under the PCC: complainants are free, should they so wish,
to pursue a legal action (and any claim for damages) once the
Commission has finished dealing with their complaint.
The fact that barely a handful of complainants out of the 25,000
complaints we have dealt with since 1991 has done so suggests
that there is no significant desire among ordinary complainants
to seek monetary compensation.
4. The reason behind this choice of sanction
for the Commission is clearand, indeed, much of the debate
(when it arises) about sanctions misses the pointthat the
PCC is at heart an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. It
is intended as a forum in which complaints can be conciliated
and resolved without the panoply of legal apparatus that makes
such conflict resolution impossible.
The power of the adjudication
5. A critical adjudication against a newspaper
or magazine is a powerful weaponas any editor will testify.
It must be published in full and with due prominence in the publication
criticised, which is an admission to the readers that the editor
broke the rules which he or she had helped to frame and by which
he or she had agreed to abide.
6. Because of the role of publishers in
the system, a critical adjudicationwhich is tantamount
to an individual being criticised by his or her own professional
bodyalso becomes an issue within a newspaper. Publishers
regularly monitor the decisions of the Commission and investigate
the background to breaches of the Code on their publications.
7. Furthermore, because of the competitive
market place in which most newspapers and magazines operate, a
critical adjudication against one editor swiftly becomes a weapon
in the armoury of that newspaper's competitors. Editors regularly
give coverage to critical adjudications against their rivals in
a way which is calculated to challenge the loyalty of readers
to the offending publication.
75 See Section A3 para. 4. Back
Asylum Aid v The Sun, Report 50. Back
Thames Valley Police v Metro, Report 60. Back
Crompton v The Sun, Report 41. Back
BBC Scotland v Scottish News of the World, Report 60. Back
Map of UK Roadshows & Exhibitions 2001-02. Back
See Section E1 paras. 6-11. Back
See Section C3 paras. 19-21. Back
This is part of a wider initiative on this subject-see Section
D2, paras. 1-6. Back
Source: NCTJ 2002. Back
See Section F3 para. 8. Back
It is worth, perhaps, pointing out that a survey shows that 64%
of people agreed that the PCC should be funded by the industry-see
Section D1 para 10. Back
The Commission is debarred only from dealing with an action which
is the subject of current legal proceedings. Back