UK

New York Times Attacks Britain's 'Chilling' Press Regulation Royal Charter

21/03/2013 16:00 GMT | Updated 25/03/2013 19:08 GMT

The US newspaper that helped expose the phone-hacking scandal has slated proposed new controls for Britain's press.

The New York Times said the "unwieldy" measures agreed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg would "chill free speech."

new york times

The New York Times helped expose phone-hacking

The newspaper played a key role in uncovering the scale of phone-hacking at the News of the World, with a 2010 investigation uncovering widespread abuse.

On Monday Britain's three main parties agreed a Royal Charter - backed up by law - to enforce the power of a new independent regulator to manage the press in the aftermath of the Leveson Inquiry.

The measures were welcomed by Hugh Grant's pressure group, Hacked Off, but have been criticised by most national newspapers.

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The New York Times said the shakeup would "threaten the survival of small publishers and Internet sites."

"Publishers who do not agree to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of this body — and many have already said they will not — could still take their chances in court but could be hit with higher, punitive fines if they were found liable."

Cameron has insisted that using a Royal Charter means there is no press law needed.

But the New York Times editorial adds: "That is a distinction largely without substance.

"In reality the proposal would effectively create a system of government regulation of Britain’s vibrant free press, something that has not happened since 1695, when licensing of newspapers was abolished."

Phone-hacking and other abuses are already catered for by the criminal and civil law, it said.