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Media freedom groups urge UK Parliament to reject statutory control of press

(WPFC/IFEX) - 31 January 2013 -

To the Honorable Members of Parliament:

The above members of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations, leading international groups that defend and promote the freedom and independence of the media worldwide, have noted that Lord Justice Leveson has published the Report that the government of the United Kingdom requested him to produce, after a lengthy Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press and that this report recommends that the United Kingdom establish a statutory regime to regulate the country's press.

The Report does not consider the signal that the creation of such a draconian regime would -- if implemented -- send to the rest of the world, especially to governments in Commonwealth countries, where the example set by the United Kingdom is so influential.

An example of how such an approach would favor worrisome press controls abroad has just been produced by the European Union. A high-level panel mandated by the European Commission has recommended that all 27 member countries should institute media councils with broad powers, amongst other things, to decree “the removal of journalistic status.”

The members of the Coordinating Committee consequently call upon the Members of the British Parliament to reject any form of statutory control or any other legislation concerning regulation of the British press and to recognise that any such measures would have a “chilling effect” on the robust practice of journalism.

The Committee's member groups also urge the British executive to respect the independence of the British press, and to reject recommendations that would allow the State to grant official recognition to any such form of regulation. They also urge the government to consider the grave implications any statute affecting the British press would have across the world.

The groups express their warm appreciation for the British government's highly useful programs to support and encourage free and independent news media globally and -- once statutory press regulation has been rejected -- looks forward to continuation of the work of the UK Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the field of media assistance and development of independent press.

Inter American Press Association
International Press Institute
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust, London
FIPP – The Worldwide Magazine Media Association, London
International Association Of Broadcasting, Montevideo

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