A regional daily has set out its opposition to the Royal Charter on press regulation, saying the title “will not sacrifice our integrity” by signing up.
Last week the cross-party Royal Charter was approved by the Privy Council despite a legal bid by newspaper publishers to prevent it, which was turned down by High Court judges.
But following its approval, the Belfast Telegraph has now joined the widespread opposition to the charter within the industry by rejecting it in an editor’s comment piece, which said it will not “sell short the ideals of the newspaper”.
Last week, the Newspaper Society said the regional press would not back the charter and would instead push forward with its own plans for a new system of regulation, which would be called the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
And at the weekend, Culture Secretary Maria Miller indicated the Royal Charter could become redundant if an effective system of self-regulation was brought in.
“We believe that the industry’s plans present the best future for the press and for the protection of the public. As the current phone hacking trial shows, there are already effective laws in place for those who might stray beyond acceptable boundaries.
“The press must be responsible, cannot be above the law but must be free to make mistakes as well as hold the powerful and famous to account.
“The Belfast Telegraph has a proud 143-year history of reporting the events in this part of the world without fear or favour.
“Signing up to this Royal Charter and its political interference would sell short the ideals of the newspaper. We do not intend to do that.”
Mike added that the proposals for IPSO show it would be the “toughest self-regulation in the western world”, with a majority of independent members, the ability to impose fines of up to £1m, powers to call editors to account and providing an arbitration service, which would be an alternative to costly libel court cases.