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Cameron confronts opposition over media regulation

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm •  Published: March 14, 2013

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday he would champion self-regulation for Britain's scandal-tainted press, bucking a key recommendation of his own media inquiry and setting up what might be a bruising confrontation with his opposition and coalition colleagues.

Politicians have been scrambling for a sensitive way to regulate the country's media after tabloid journalists were revealed to have intercepted celebrity voicemails, bribed police officers, trampled over people's privacy, and even hacked into computers in their hunt for scoops.

An inquiry ordered by Cameron and headed by Lord Justice Brian Leveson recommended the creation of a press watchdog body dominated by non-journalists and backed by government regulation, but negotiations between Cameron's Conservatives and others over how to implement those recommendations have stalled amid increasingly acrimonious debate.

In a hastily organized press conference, Cameron said the gap between politicians was unbridgeable and that he was pressing forward with his own plan for self-regulation formalized by government approval.

"I've chosen a practical solution over an unworkable solution," Cameron told journalists. "I have chosen a solution that protects press freedom over a solution that threatens press freedom."

Cameron plans to call a vote in Parliament on his self-regulation plan Monday, but it was not immediately clear whether his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, would give it the support it may need to pass.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he was "disappointed, and indeed surprised, that David Cameron has decided to walk away from cross-party talks."

Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would oppose Cameron's plan, and political watchers said the vote might be very close.

"It's a big gamble," said Paul Connew, a media commentator, former tabloid executive, and phone hacking victim who's closely followed the scandal and its aftermath. "As a believer in press freedom I hope he wins, but I'm not sure he will."

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