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Authors sign up to Hacked Off declaration

JK Rowling, Philip Pullman, Jeanette Winterson and tens of other authors have signed a declaration of support for press regulation to be underpinned by a royal charter.

The campaign group Hacked Off has placed full page adverts containing the name of the signatories in three national newspapers, including The Guardian, today (18th March).

The declaration, signed by more than 200 actors, writers, academics and celebrities, calls for newspapers to agree to a royal charter published last October, which proposed that the Press Complaints Commission be scrapped and replaced with a regulator with greater powers. The charter follows many of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.

However, the industry fears the charter allows state control of the press and is instead setting up its own charter, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (ipso).

Authors who have added their names to the list include Monica Ali, Alan Bennett, Ian McEwan, A.S Byatt, Irvine Welsh, Helen Fielding, Kazuo Ishiguro, Professor Richard Dawkins, poet Craig Raine and biographer Claire Tomalin. Granta publisher Sigrid Rausing has also signed the declaration.

They join names such as actors Miranda Hart and Joanna Lumley and football presenter Gary Lineker in calling for the press to sign up to the charter.

The advert will also be carried in other newspapers and magazines throughout the week.

Supporters of the newspapers’ argument include the leading international publishers' organisation, WAN-IFRA, which held a press freedom mission to Britain in January.

However, Hacked Off reject the claim that press freedom will be threatened by the charter and claim that Ipso is far too similar to the PCC and lacks independence and rigour.

The advert reads: “We believe a free press is the cornerstone of democracy. It should be fearless in exposing corruption, holding the powerful to account and championing the powerless. It has nothing to fear, and can only be enhanced, by acknowledging unethical practice in its midst and acting firmly to ensure it is not repeated. We also think that editors and journalists will rise in public esteem when they accept a form of self-regulation that is independently audited on the lines recommended by Lord Justice Leveson and laid down in the Royal Charter of 30th October 2013.”

It adds: “It is our view that this Charter safeguards the press from political interference whilst also giving vital protection to the vulnerable.”

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

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I'm glad we have a Constitution in the U.S. that allows for free speech. Regulating the press is a bad idea as it will open the lid of a Pandora's box. When government regulates it does not end with the initial foray into the industry it is charged with regulating. Regulators will want to expand their power time and time again.

It is like a tax on gas. It starts at a certain level and no matter what the government says it will do the taxes only go up.

The courts are where the bad behavior of the press should be dealt with. From over here it seems like the reporters and their bosses in the press who broke the law and abused their positions are not only facing serious criminal charges but that their careers are fundamentally over. They are radioactive and I can't imagine anyone in the news media hiring them again. Anyone who tried would be immediately pounced on by the press itself and public opinion.

Public opinion in the U.K. has been very effective as well in dealing a blow to the abuses in the press.

When authors back this type of legislation they of all should know the pitfalls of handing over such power to the government because at some time in the future their work could be regulated as well by the government. We've seen it all before throughout history. It is not a path society and a democracy should go down. The end does not justify the means.

Robert Gottlieb
Chairman
Trident Media Group, LLC
www.tridentmediagoup.com
Like us on Facebook and visit us on Twitter

I'm glad we have a Constitution in the U.S. that allows for free speech. Regulating the press is a bad idea as it will open the lid of a Pandora's box. When government regulates it does not end with the initial foray into the industry it is charged with regulating. Regulators will want to expand their power time and time again.

It is like a tax on gas. It starts at a certain level and no matter what the government says it will do the taxes only go up.

The courts are where the bad behavior of the press should be dealt with. From over here it seems like the reporters and their bosses in the press who broke the law and abused their positions are not only facing serious criminal charges but that their careers are fundamentally over. They are radioactive and I can't imagine anyone in the news media hiring them again. Anyone who tried would be immediately pounced on by the press itself and public opinion.

Public opinion in the U.K. has been very effective as well in dealing a blow to the abuses in the press.

When authors back this type of legislation they of all should know the pitfalls of handing over such power to the government because at some time in the future their work could be regulated as well by the government. We've seen it all before throughout history. It is not a path society and a democracy should go down. The end does not justify the means.

Robert Gottlieb
Chairman
Trident Media Group, LLC
www.tridentmediagoup.com
Like us on Facebook and visit us on Twitter