The number of complaints against regional and national newspapers has risen by almost two thirds over the past year, according to figures published today.
Annual statistics published by the Press Complaints Commission this morning show that it received 12,191 complaints during 2012 – a 66pc increase on the 2011 figure of 7,341.
Today’s figures also show that a higher proportion of investigated complaints were made against regional newspapers – 33.7pc of the total compared to 31.2pc in 2011.
And the statistics reveal a sharp rise in complaints about privacy, with 40.9pc of complainants raising this as an issue in 2012 compared to 29.2pc the previous year.
According to the figures, the PCC issued rulings in 1,937 cases last year – up 13pc from the 2011 figure of 1,713 rulings.
In 1,288 of these cases, the watchdog ruled that there had not been a breach of the Editor’s Code of Practice, while a further 535 cases were successfully mediated to the complainant’s satisfaction.
In 101 cases, the Commission ruled that the Code had been breached, but that the publication had offered or taken sufficient action to remedy the breach, even though an agreed settlement between the complainant and the publication could not be reached.
In only 13 cases was it necessary for the Commission to issue a critical public ruling against titles that had breached the Code and failed to remedy the breach, or had brached it in such a manner that it could not be remedied.
In terms of issues raised, 92.6pc of the complaints were brought under Clauses 1 & 2 of the Code, which cover accuracy and right of reply, while 40.9pc involved privacy issues.
Of the investigated complaints, 49.4pc were against national newspapers – down from 54.4pc in 2011 – 33.7pc against regional and local newspapers, 11pc against Scottish newspapers, 2pc against Irish newspapers and 2.9pc against magazines.
Commenting on the statistics, PCC chairman Lord Hunt said: “I have always made clear that the present system of press self-regulation needs to change. The evidence to the Leveson Inquiry showed the need for a genuine regulator with a new remit, strong investigative powers and robust, meaningful sanctions.
“Whilst we continue to move towards the construction of a new regulator, the PCC’s valuable complaints and pre-publication services remain available to the public.
“Last year’s figures testify to the thousands of people who have been offered practical help by the PCC’s committed staff, round the clock, and entirely for free.
“Significant reform of press regulation is needed, and will be delivered. These existing services should be preserved and built on as the new regulator that is desperately needed in the UK is constructed.”