UK lawmakers reject newspapers' plan for self-regulation

Reuters

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The British government on Tuesdayrejected press regulation plans put forward by the newspaperindustry and instead opted to pursue a proposal championed byPrime Minister David Cameron to rein in the heavily-criticisednational media.

Parliament is seeking a way to stamp out the scandal-hungryculture in some of Britain's press that has caused publicoutrage and prompted a lengthy government inquiry in 2011 duringwhich one of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers was found to havehacked into a murdered schoolgirl's mobile phone.

A panel of lawmakers weighed up a plan agreed by the mainpolitical parties as well as a rival proposal from the newspaperindustry, both of which aimed to implement the recommendationsof a public inquiry led by Brian Leveson, a judge.

"Whilst there are areas where it is acceptable, it is unableto comply with some fundamental Leveson principles andgovernment policy, such as independence and access toarbitration," Culture Secretary Maria Miller said of thenewspapers' plan.

The two plans both involve creating a new regulator andarbitration facilities to handle complaints but the newspaperplan is seen as giving more power to the industry and havinggreater safeguards against political interference.

Miller said the alternative cross-party plan would now beimproved before being reviewed on Oct. 30.

The Newspaper Society, a body which represents national andlocal titles, had previously argued that the government's planscould imperil press freedom.

The British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp.,Associated Newspapers which publishes the Daily Mail, andTrinity Mirror, were among the publishers to back theindustry system.

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