Potential blow to press self regulation as The West withdraws from Australian Press Council

The already under-threat self regulation of the Australian press has suffered what appears to be a major blow with the withdrawal of Seven West Media – which owns The West Australian newspaper and Pacific Magazines – from The Australian Press Council.

The organisation issued a statement saying:

4 April 2012 — Seven West Media announced today that it has withdrawn from the Australian Press Council.

The group editor in chief Bob Cronin said the company was putting in place an alternative independent complaints-resolution body, which would guarantee accountability of all the group’s publications. He said the company would release full details of the plan in coming weeks and would make no further comment until then.

Seven West Media also runs Pacific Magazines, Yahoo!7 and the Seven television network, which was not previously covered by the Australian Press Council. TV is regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority while online news is not automatically regulated by any specific body.

The timing of the move comes at a key time for the APC, which has been close to unveiling proposed reforms to how it operates.

Last month saw the Finkelstein independent media inquiry recommend that The Australian Press Council – which is funded and run by the newspaper industry – be replaced by a government-funded News Media Council. The inquiry described the proposed body as “enforced self regulation”

Media minister Stephen Conroy, who is also currently examining the separate media convergence review, has yet to act on the recommendations.

The four major newspaper groups behind the APC are News Limited, Fairfax Media, APN News and media and, up to now, Seven West Media. Other constituent bodies include ACP Magazines and newswire service AAP. Private Media – owner of online newletter Crikey – recently signalled that it would join the APC too.

APC chairman Julian Disney could not be immediately reached for comment.


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