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

No, I can see that, and there will be (inaudibles) depending on what is -- and I do think it is orders as well. I've touched on the easy bit, like financial penalties. The difficult bit is retraction, apology, that kind of thing. Perfectly responsible journalists would agree with everything I've said so far. Take off if you say the body should have the power to stipulate the form of apology and retraction and where it is printed in the newspaper.

I know people who would otherwise get very, very excited saying no one is going to start telling me what I put where in my newspaper and so on. I'm afraid it is necessary, because certainly in the past I know people who have had favourable adjudications at the PCC perhaps which have simply been ignored by newspapers. I also know people who an apology has been invited, have found the apology is tucked away in three or four little lines in some completely obscure and unreadable part of the newspaper.

So the more you start setting out the specific powers, you are undoubtedly going to have people refusing to comply with its orders, probably, unless it has some statutory underpinning.

But then you have to be careful what penalties you then impose for refusal to comply then. The last thing we want -- I do think 99 per cent of people in this country genuinely believe in a free press. The journalists are getting almost as sensitive as the politicians in believing nobody loves them any more. Nobody minds an irreverent, noisy and critical press.

Once you start imposing severe penalties on someone who owns a newspaper for not doing what you want him to do, you have to be extremely careful, but otherwise the history I think shows that without teeth in the end you're wasting your time, and in my opinion we'll be completely wasting our time if some section of the printed media just refuse to join it and won't submit anyway.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech