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12 October 2017

Culture Secretary: Vast Majority of Press Will Never Sign Up to PRP-Recognised Regulator

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has acknowledged that more than 90 per cent of the press will never sign up to a regulator recognised by the Press Recognition Panel because of concerns around press freedom.

In a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee session Ms Bradley said responses to the consultation into press regulation would be published “shortly” and before the end of the year.  

Asked by MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme Paul Farrelly about the process in which the Conservative Party manifesto, which contains pledges to repeal Section 40 and not to proceed with the second part of the Leveson inquiry was drawn up, the Culture Secretary said: “I stand by the manifesto.

“I was elected on the basis of the manifesto. I will be bringing forward the consultation responses and at that point I will go through the due process as required under the consultation.

Pressed further to comment on the manifesto by Mr Farrelly, the Culture Secretary added: “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me in my capacity as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to comment on what went on internally in the party putting together a manifesto.”

Explaining the reasons for launching the DCMS consultation into press regulation, the Culture Secretary said: “We have to be mindful of the different environment the press operates in today.

“When the Leveson Inquiry reported and when Parliament legislated there was an assumption that the press would be regulated by regulators which applied for recognition under the Press Recognition Panel.  

“That did not happen. Over 90 per cent of the press is not regulated by a regulator that comes under the Press Recognition Panel. We have to accept that that is the situation and try and work within that.

She added: “The vast majority of newsprint press will never, have refused to sign up to a regulator that will seek recognition under the Press Recognition Panel because they believe that that is a Government intrusion in the press."

Talking about Section 40, she added: “Local press were very concerned and I received a number of representations about whether they were financially viable and whether they would be able to do sufficient investigative journalism that they are known for and proud of.

“I want to see vibrant local press succeeding and they are concerned that full implementation of Section 40 would stop them doing that.”

Paul Farrelly said: “One of the reasons we came to a unanimous view around this Committee before making our submission was that people were actually quite affronted by the use by national media corporations of local newspaper editors, including the editor of The Sentinel newspaper, to lobby and press MPs, giving only one half of the story.

“And you’ve got a sharp mind Secretary of State so you’ll recognise that the case that was being given by these editors was lobotomised.”