The Press Complaints Commission
The Press Complaints Commission is currently in a phase of transition; and it will soon be replaced by a new structure of independent self-regulation for the newspaper and magazine industries. Following the recommendations Sir Brian Leveson made in his Report published in November 2012, the magazine and newspaper industries have been creating a new, self-regulatory body - the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), in accordance with the Leveson principles. The target date for IPSO to commence operations is 1 May 2014. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the PCC will therefore be closing down on 30 April.
In the meantime, the PCC will continue to deal with complaints from members of the public, which can be made in the normal way throughout the transition period. All complaints that are already being handled as at 30 April will be carried over to IPSO. The terms of the Editors' Code of Practice remain the same, and members of PCC staff are available at any time to offer advice, including on an emergency out-of-hours basis for concerns relating to harassment or attention from journalists and photographers. There is also further information about the aims of the PCC in the Procedures for Consideration of Complaints.
Who we are
The PCC is an independent body which administers the system of self-regulation for the press. It does so primarily by dealing with complaints, framed within the terms of the Editors' Code of Practice, about the editorial content of newspapers and magazines (and their websites, including editorial audio-visual material) and the conduct of journalists. It can also assist individuals by representing their interests to editors in advance of an article about them being published.
The purpose of the PCC is to serve the public by holding editors to account. We strive to protect the rights of individuals, while at the same time preserving appropriate freedom of expression for the press. We proactively advertise our services and reach out to people who may be in need of our help. We aim to promote high standards by developing clear guidance and practical principles through our rulings, and offering training and advice to editors and journalists.
How we work
The Commission comprises seventeen members and has a majority (ten) of "lay" or public members (including the Chairman) with no connection to the newspaper and magazine industry. The remaining seven Commissioners are serving editors. The PCC enforces the Editors' Code of Practice agreed by the newspaper and magazine industry, which deals with issues of accuracy and privacy in reporting and how journalists should behave in gathering the news.
The PCC acts by:
We are committed to transparency and accountability and publicise all of our rulings. We also raise awareness among policymakers, public agencies and charities, lawyers, officials, journalists and the general public about the work of the PCC.
The system is designed to maintain standards in the press by enforcing the terms of the Code and so holding editors to account, while still preserving appropriate freedom of expression. This is primarily achieved by the PCC administering an efficient and free complaints service. We encourage complainants, as the more people use the system, the more editors are held to account for their decisions. This will - and indeed does - lead to a rise in standards.
Some "standards" issues fall outside the remit of the Commission: questions of taste and offence; tone of coverage; newsworthiness of stories; quality of writing. It would be inappropriate for the Commission to comment upon these issues, as they are not covered by the Code of Practice. The test for the PCC must be whether the Code has been breached.
The PCC can enforce a range of sanctions, summarised below:
The PCC cannot act on every story or issue that arises in connection with the press. It would not be practical, or possible, to monitor the output (online and in hard copy) of newspapers and magazines, and to seek to establish whether it complies with the Code of Practice. The Code is designed to protect individuals, and the PCC needs to respect the wishes - and consider the evidence - of those individuals when investigating complaints about information relating to them.
So, if an issue relates to a named individual, the PCC will generally not conduct investigations without that person's consent. However, the Commission will not just wait for complaints to come in. We endeavour to:
When there is a major incident, attracting considerable media coverage, we will ensure that we act decisively and quickly.You can find our more about the PCC in our FAQs section here.
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