U.K. Press Complaints Commission to Close After 21 Years

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LONDON – The U.K.’s Press Complaints Commission is to close after 21 years as the ongoing phone-hacking scandal rages on in Britain.

The self-regulatory watchdog is deemed to have been damaged beyond repair from its response to the phone-hacking furore currently engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper publishing division News International and the wider U.K. print media industry.

The 21-year-old organization will be formally closed and replaced with a transitional body which will take up press regulation on a temporary basis until a fresh system is installed.

Some industry reports indicate a new regulator will be up and running before the findings of the ongoing Leveson inquiry into alleged wrongdoings by the British media are published, others say after.

PCC chairman Lord Hunt told Sky News at the end of February that the organisation had met and would be moving towards forming a new watchdog, “for the first time a press regulator with teeth.”

But the long-term replacement for the PCC is not expected to be up and running for at least a year and may not be in place until 2014 if laws are needed to be installed in terms of libel resolution and the like.

The PCC has come in for some harsh criticism from the media, politicians and the public alike for not acting more speedily and aggressively in reacting to allegations of phone-hacking tilted at key players in the British newspaper industry.

Baroness Buscombe, who stood down as PCC chairman last year, told the Leveson inquiry she had been "misled" by News International over the phone hacking scandal.

"I regret that I was clearly misled by News International, that I accepted what they had told me," she told the hearing earlier this year.

The media was abuzz Thursday with the decision taken by the newspaper industry to close the PCC down and just what shape or form a new regulator might look like.

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