Letter: Powers of the PCC

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Sir: You criticise the Press Complaints Commission for not ruling against a newspaper on a matter of taste which you say is "apparently" outside the PCC's remit (leading article, 18 May).

It is indeed outside the PCC's remit - for good reason. When the PCC was established, the newspaper industry itself - not my Commission - decided that we should not have powers to adjudicate on matters of taste.

The thinking behind it - with which I am bound to say I am in agreement - is that the boundary between deciding on matters of taste and exercising censorship is too narrow. What is poor taste to me is good taste to someone else: let the market - which, as all newspapers know, is highly competitive - sort that out. If newspapers now have a different view, then they should change the powers of the PCC - not criticise it for something beyond its control.

You say that the Commission is an "adjudicator on trial". That is correct: self-regulation - which seeks to balance freedom and responsibility - will always be "on trial". For myself, I think I would win few admirers by acting ultra vires and starting to exercise powers of censorship that newspapers themselves never intended me to have.

Lord WAKEHAM

Chairman

Press Complaints Commission

London EC4

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