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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

The debate between Cameron and his parliamentary colleagues centers on whether or not any future press watchdog should be set through an act of Parliament — through legislation — or through a Royal Charter, which is an executive act.

Proponents of legislation say that passing a law will put the watchdog on a firmer footing and give it more power to discipline rogue newspaper or resist pressure from media-friendly government ministers. Opponents of legislation believe, as Cameron put it Thursday, that passing a media law would bring Britain "over the Rubicon" and endanger the country's free press.

Those who back the Royal Charter — an act whose history dates back to medieval times — say it's a compromise solution that keeps the press free while still giving official blessing to a media watchdog. Opponents say the proposal gives both politicians and their media baron pals the ability to play with the system.

Labour Lawmaker Chris Bryant, whose phone was hacked by Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid, told BBC television that "we need a body that is completely independent both of politicians and of the newspapers and it has to have statutory underpinning so you can't just have some government minister coming along and changing it at will."

Former Formula One boss Max Mosley, who sued the News of the World for invasion of privacy over the paper's false claims he had taken part in a Nazi-themed orgy, said legislation was required for an enduring solution.

Mosley told the BBC that Cameron — who drew two of his closest advisors from the News of the World before they were arrested — was bending over backwards to satisfy his allies in the media.

"He's doing everything he can to satisfy the press," Mosley said. "But that doesn't satisfy the rest of us."