Britain delays press watchdog plan

AFP-JIJI

The British government will delay plans for a new state-backed press watchdog after newspapers rejected the proposal and published their own version, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said on Friday.

Cameron’s Downing Street office said it was forced to postpone its bid for a beefed-up new regulator, which was drawn up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid, to allow more time to consider the newspapers’ alternative charter.

The three main political parties struck a deal in March for a tougher system of press self-regulation underpinned by law, which they said was needed to rein in the electronic privacy-invading excesses of Britain’s famously raucous tabloids.

But newspapers fought the plan by unveiling their own version, saying the government’s proposal to set up a watchdog by so-called royal charter threatened press freedom. Their alternative charter would come into force without any state involvement.