The governance of the Press Complaints Commission: an independent review

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The governance of the Press Complaints Commission: an independent review July 2010 Contents 01 02 03 05 07 10 15 16 18 19 20 21 25 26 Preface Summary The PCC and self-regulation Clarity of purpose Effectiveness Independence Transparency Accountability Practical implications Appendix one Appendix two Appendix three Appendix four Appendix five Preface In August 2009, Baroness Buscombe, Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), announced an independent review into the governance of th
  Te governance of the Press ComplaintsCommission: anindependent review  July 2010  Contents 01 Preace 02 Summary 03 The PCC and sel-regulation 05 Clarity o purpose 07 Eectiveness 10 Independence 15 Transparency 16 Accountability 18 Practical implications 19 Appendix one 20 Appendix two 21 Appendix three 25 Appendix our 26 Appendix fve  Governance Review 01 Preace In August 2009, Baroness Buscombe, Chairmano the Press Complaints Commission (PCC),announced an independent review into the governanceo the organisation. The aim o the initiative was:“To review matters relating to the governance o the Press Complaints Commission, and to makerecommendations in order urther to build publicconfdence in the administration o independentpress regulation in the UK.” 1  This is the frst such review in the history o the PCC,and has represented an opportunity to test and improvestructures and processes that have evolved rom theestablishment o the organisation in 1991. We haveborne in mind throughout the views o a wide rangeo individuals and groups with a perspective on thePCC, including complainants, lawyers, politicians, journalists, academics and policymakers. We have alsoconsulted senior representatives rom other regulatoryand sel-regulatory bodies (see Appendix 1). We aregrateul to all those who have contributed to this review. The Governance Review panel consists o theollowing members:ã Vivien Hepworth, (Chairman o the Review Group),Executive Chairman o Grayling in the UK andIreland; and ormer member o the PressComplaints Commission;ã Stephen Haddrill, Chie Executive o theFinancial Reporting Council;ã Dr. Elizabeth Vallance, Chairman o the Instituteo Education; Member o the Committeeon Standards in Public Lie; and membero the PCC Appointments Commission;ã Eddie Young, ormer Group Legal Advisero Associated Newspapers.Our inquiry has taken place against the backdrop o theconsiderable technological and structural change in thenewspaper and magazine industry that has occurred inrecent years. More specifcally, it ollows a wide-rangingexamination o press standards by the Culture, Mediaand Sport Select Committee, which produced a reportin February 2010 endorsing sel-regulation, but raisingimportant questions about some aspects o the waythe PCC operates. The PCC has always been – and will always be – theocus o legitimate scrutiny and challenge. Recently,there have been controversies surrounding thereporting o the disappearance o Madeleine McCann,and the allegations o phone message hacking involvingNews International. The Governance Review has takenaccount o lessons learned wherever possible in itsconclusions.We also called or submissions rom any interestedparty (and received 40, which can be accessed at: ). We also held oral evidence sessions,and over fve months spoke to 29 individuals (see Appendix 2 or the ull list).In the course o its work, the Governance Review hearda very wide range o opinions, rom the highly criticalthrough to the strongly supportive. Our report cannot –and does not seek to – bridge the gap between someo the opinions expressed. Nor do we try to respond toall o the points that have been raised, many o whichell outside our remit. The challenge or the GovernanceReview was to see how the organisation, and those itserves, could beneft rom improvements to its overallgovernance. Our terms o reerence can be accessedat: consultation.html. 1 The press release announcing the review can be read at  Governance Review 02 Summary Corporate governance is usually defned as thesystem under which an organisation is appointedand held to account. We have distilled this notioninto fve key tests o the quality o governance.These comprise the fve main sections o thisreport: clarity o purpose; eectiveness;independence; transparency; and accountability.The ollowing summarises our key conclusions,with specifc recommendations appearing inbold throughout the report. A summary o allrecommendations appears in Appendix 3. Clarity of purpose  A clear role or the Commission  The PCC should publicly defne its purpose and therange o its activities. This includes when it will actproactively and when it will wait or a complaint. There should be greater clarity about how complaintsare considered, and how rulings can be challenged. The Commission should also spell out what sanctionsit has available and how they are deployed. Effectiveness Tougher scrutiny rules  The existing Business Sub-Committee should beabolished and replaced by an Audit Committee withwider terms o reerence to scrutinise the servicereceived by complainants, overall perormance, riskand fnancial management. More industry engagement with the system Editorial service on the Commission should becomemore widespread, and be regarded as a duty o editors. PressBo should take active steps to encouragethis. Industry members should be encouraged to reerethical issues themselves to the PCC or consideration. Independence  A stronger Board  The PCC should draw more heavily on the experienceo its Board, especially its lay (i.e. public) members. This should be reected in the annual planning o activities; the routine engagement o the Board inconsidering what steps should be taken to deal withissues o public concern; and the use o Boardworking groups to develop thinking in challengingareas o policy. A new role o Deputy Chairman shouldbe established to enhance the inuence o the laymajority and support an improved scrutiny unction.  A stronger lay voice on the content o the Code New rules are needed about consultation o theCommission by the Editors’ Code o PracticeCommittee to ensure the lay voice is properlyrepresented prior to the annual review o the Code. Transparency Greater transparency about appointments  The existing Appointments Commission should beabolished and replaced by a Nominations Committeeoperating consistent rules or the appointment o bothlay and editorial Commissioners. Greater openness about the system  There should be an increase in inormation about howthe system is structured – including the relationshipbetween the PCC, PressBo and the Code Committee– and the publication o consistent, accessible datathat allows easier analysis and assessment o thePCC’s work by the public.  Accountability More rigorous examination o perormance  The role o Independent Reviewer (ormerly theCharter Commissioner) should be expanded tohear challenges to decisions based on substanceas well as handling. The Board should establishannual objectives and publicly report whether it isachieving them. The Commission should evaluateits own perormance, and that o its Chairman, onan annual basis.
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