Ousting PCC 'would harm local press'

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Replacing the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) with a more expensive new body for self-regulating the press would damage Britain's already-enfeebled regional and local press, the editor of one of Britain's leading regional newspapers told the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.

Britain's local press is "in a fragile financial state", said Spencer Feeney from the South Wales Evening Post, appealing to Lord Justice Leveson not to "make any recommendations that's going to exacerbate that."

It was the inquiry's first public evidence taken from regional titles in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Written testimony was also taken from executives of English regional titles.

John McLellan, editor of the Edinburgh-based Scotsman newspaper, backed up evidence given earlier this week to the inquiry by Trinity Mirror. Mr McLellan said his title had experienced steep falls in advertising revenue, traditionally a key factor in regionals' ability to survive Britain's changing media landscape.

Regional newspapers, according to Mr McLellan, had been hit hard by the internet, which he said offered an alternative to newspapers.

The current system of self-regulation has the PCC as the single central authority serving both regional and national titles.

During discussions with the inquiry's junior counsel, David Barr, on the possibility of two new regulatory bodies that would separate the national and regional press, The Scotsman's editor said it would be strange to have to work with two bodies.