The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

May I set out the commercial background to this first, because I think that -- I need to explain that background, explain why we publish in America first of all, because I think it's important that everyone understands that.

As I explained earlier, we took a decision not to put up a paywall because we didn't think we could make it pay, and we still believe that's the case. Advertising yields online are lower than in print, so to have a viable future you have to be big, you have to have scale. Luckily the Internet provides us with an answer to that, it provides us with the rest of the world to which we can now export our content directly without having to set up a print plant in every country.

So that's why we have an American operation.

The third part of the pillar is that Fleet Street's legacy, its vibrant legacy, the fact that we are used to doing entertaining news that engages people and people find compelling, gives us a competitive advantage against American websites who maybe don't come from that kind of background. So that explains the success we've had so far.

So in answer to your question, no, we can't always follow the highest standard of regulation if that regulation is unreasonable.

If I can give you a specific example, Pippa Middleton, for instance, British newspapers have a voluntary embargo on pictures of her taken going about her daily business on the basis that she's a private individual, so we don't use pictures of her going to the shops or going to work. We only use pictures of her when she's at a public event. But I think your Inquiry has already heard that there are hundreds of pictures that drop in on the wires of her every day. The question is why are those pictures dropping if nobody's using them? The answer is they're being used every day in America by sites with which I'm in competition.

We don't use those pictures because we stick by the agreement that the British newspapers have made, and that's a commercial disadvantage that I just have to live with.

Similarly, there are things that we can't write, pregnancy stories, for instance. The PCC says that we're not allowed to say somebody somebody's pregnant unless they've confirmed it, whereas American websites reveal celebrities' pregnancies all the time. There was a case a few weeks ago where it was reported that Sienna Miller was pregnant and every other celebrity website in America, with which I'm in competition on one level, reported that and we sat on our hands for hours and hours and hours not reporting it until, bizarrely, her sister confirmed it on Twitter, at which point we thought, well, I guess that's okay then.

We're happy to deal with that imbalance, if you like, and the fact that we don't live on a level playing field with our American competitors, but it's important to us that it doesn't get any more skewed, if that answers your question.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech