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Report: Britain needs independent press regulator

By The Associated Press

This article was published November 29, 2012 at 8:03 a.m.

— Britain needs a new independent media regulator to eliminate a subculture of unethical behavior that infected segments of the country’s press, a senior judge said Thursday at the end of a year-long inquiry into newspaper wrongdoing.

Lord Justice Brian Leveson said a new regulatory body should be established in law to prevent more people being hurt by “press behavior that, at times, can only be described as outrageous.”

He said “what is needed is a genuinely independent and effective system of self-regulation.”

Leveson issued his 2,000-page report at the end of a media-ethics inquiry that was triggered by revelations of tabloid phone hacking and expanded to engulf senior figures in politics, the police and Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

His proposals will likely be welcomed by victims of press intrusion and some politicians, who want to see the country’s press reined in. But some editors and lawmakers fear any new body could curtail freedom of the press.

Leveson insisted in his report that politicians and the government should play no role in regulating the press, which should be done by a new body with much stronger powers than the current Press Complaints Commission.

But, Leveson said, it is “essential that there should be legislation to underpin the independent self-regulatory system.”

He said the new body should be composed of members of the public including former journalists and academics — but no serving editors or politicians. It should have the power to demand prominent corrections in newspapers and to levy fines of up to $1.6 million, he said.

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