Ian Burrell: There are too many conflicts among British press for the public to trust any in-house punishments
The public will rightly question the sincerity of this breast-beating show of remorse
The British press is engaged in unprecedented acts of self-flagellation, offering itself up for £1m fines, promising to accept punishments of lost advertising revenue and make its foot soldiers carry new identity cards. In a deluge of reports submitted to Lord Justice Leveson last week, the newspaper industry did everything it could to head off the threat of state regulation, or the “Sword of Damocles”, in the words of Lord Hunt, the Press Complaints Commission chairman.
According to Paul Dacre, the editor in chief of the Daily Mail and the chairman of the PCC's Editors' Code Committee, the industry's proposed concessions would create "the toughest press regulatory body in the free world". But the public will rightly question the sincerity of this breast-beating show of remorse in the face of the wrath provoked by the phone-hacking scandal.
Leveson himself will be reluctant to embrace the solutions put forward by a regulator whose failings led to his inquiry being set up in the first place. The judge's enthusiasm for the extensive proposals made by another industry body, Pressbof, is likely to be dampened by the knowledge that it is the funding organisation for the PCC.
Lord Justice Leveson reached out to the press to give him the answers for how the industry could salvage its reputation – but the British news-stand is so diverse that it inevitably struggles to speak with one clear voice. Although Lord Black of Brentwood, the executive director of Telegraph Media Group, has worked hard to present the Pressbof proposals as the industry's position, it is largely the work of media lawyers rather than the voice of the editorial floors where the crucial decisions are taken on how stories are covered.
As Lord Justice Leveson calls for feedback, the two newspapers most closely scrutinised during his inquiry, The Sun and the Daily Mirror, are in states of disarray. This month, Scotland Yard arrested the latest of more than 10 Sun journalists held as part of inquiries into alleged illegal payments to public officials.
Lawyers and management at News International are so heavily engaged in addressing the all-consuming hacking and corruption investigations that the future of press regulation has been low on their priority list. The dismissals of the editors of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror have created editorial turmoil at publisher Trinity Mirror, where the chief executive Sly Bailey resigned this month.
In his own submission to Leveson, Mr Dacre complained of the "loss-making, elitist publications" which he said "have had the loudest voices about this inquiry".
The comments are illustrative of the difficulties of the industry in finding common ground. They also acknowledge that it is the quality end of the market which has done most to expose the iniquities in the business while tabloid colleagues have shown little appetite for reform, even allowing for the limited interest of their readers.
Interestingly, a former editor of The Sun, David Yelland, is signatory to a more far-reaching proposal for press reform submitted by the Media Standards Trust, which calls for a degree of statutory intervention in the form of a "backstop" auditor who would be established in law and have responsibility for approving self-regulatory organisations and auditing them on an annual basis. Yelland's position will not sit comfortably with former colleagues.
And then there is the "Desmond dilemma". Though the Express Newspapers owner has lawyers working with the Pressbof team, his papers still sit outside the PCC and none of the recent Leveson submissions had a convincing explanation for how to coax what Lord Hunt described as "errant sheep" into the self-regulatory pen.
Such divisions threaten to delay reform to a degree that will even further undermine public confidence in the press, unless the judge has a more effective answer of his own.
Moyles ponders US move as he nears Radio 1 exit
BBC Radio 1 is finally preparing for the departure of Chris Moyles. The mouthy Yorkshireman has been rumoured to be on his way almost since he first took over the network's breakfast show in 2004, building an audience of 7m whilst giving his bosses palpitations with his politically incorrect humour.
Moyles has 18 months left on his BBC contract but is expected to head to America where he has been exploring potential new opportunities – he already has a long-standing relationship with Sirius, the New York-based satellite radio station (and Sirius shock jock Howard Stern's deal is reported to be worth $2,000 a minute). The BBC is hopeful that if he moves across the Atlantic, he will maintain a working relationship with the organisation. Radio 1 is positioning Nick Grimshaw, Greg James and Fearne Cotton as his possible replacement and trying to raise their profiles to ensure a smooth transition. Later this year, Moyles will take time off to play King Herod in the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage show Jesus Christ Superstar. His deputy then is likely to be his anointed successor.
King proving a hit with women
It might not seem the best use of one's time in an economic downturn but bursting bubbles in the company of witches is helping establish a British-based company at the forefront of the international gaming industry.
Bubble Witch Saga, played by nearly six million people a day (70 per cent of them women), has made King.com the second biggest games company on Facebook by focusing on female gamers.
Founder Riccardo Zacconi, who was one of the most in-demand delegates at last week's Le Web tech conference in London, tells me King products will launch on mobile and tablet within two months. "Women like games which are easy to learn, because they don't have much time, and they like games which are difficult to master and challenging.
"And the most important thing is that they are snackable and can be played in only 3-5 minutes."
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