The Media in Figures: The Press Complaints Commission 2012 report

SOME 11 per cent of complaints investigated last year by the Press Complaints Commission were about Scottish newspapers, according to figures released by the Press watchdog yesterday.

The PCC’s annual report for 2012 revealed, among other things, that 12,191 complaints were received by the PCC, not that all were within its remit; for example, complaints about adverts.

Among the other figures released by the PCC…

The PCC issued rulings, or brokered agreed resolutions, in respect of 1,937 cases, of which 101 were considered to have breached the PCC’s ethics code and 13 were considered so serious, it involved a ‘critical public ruling’. Also of this 1,937 cases, in 535 of them, the PCC ‘successfully mediated’, while, in 1,274 of them, no breach was found.

The PCC acted to assist members of the public with ‘pre-publication concerns’ (about harassment, intrusion or inaccuracy) on 136 occasions.

There were seven cases where no finding was possible because of irreconcilable conflicts of evidence.

Some 2,215 complaints were not pursued after initially being submitted and a further 815 fell outside the PCC’s jurisdiction or related to matters of taste and decency not covered by the PPC’s Editors’ Code.

On 109 occasions, the PCC ruled that it could not consider a complaint (made by a third party) without contact or consent from the person directly affected by the article in question.

The reasons cited in a complaint fell into the following categories, under the Editors’ Code:

* 92.6 per cent – Accuracy and opportunity to reply (Clauses 1 and 2)

* 40.9 per cent – Privacy issues (Clauses 3 – 9 and 11)

* 1.8 per cent – Subterfuge (Clause 10)

* 2.3 per cent – Discrimination (Clause 12)

* 0.06 per cent – Others (Clauses 13-16)

Investigations by sector, produced the following summary:

* 49.4 per cent – National newspapers

* 33.7 per cent – Regional and local newspapers

* 11 per cent – Scottish newspapers

* two per cent – Irish newspapers

* 2.9 per cent – Magazines

* 0.1 per cent – Press agencies

* 0.1 per cent – Publications not subscribing to the self-regulatory system

In 2012, the average time between a complaint being lodged and it being concluded was 47.3 working days.

96.1 per cent of PCC-negotiated corrections were published no later than five pages further back than the material complained of, or in a dedicated corrections column (in many cases, on a page further forward than originally).

Some 136 ‘desist’ notices were sent to newspapers; ie PCC advice ahead of anything yet to be published, and a request to please dont’, for instance, approach someone.

On 85 occasions, the PCC didn’t wait for someone to complain, but pro-actively began to investigate itself.

Of the 371 people who responded to a survey on how their complaint was handled by the PCC…

* 79 per cent of those who expressed an opinion said that, in terms of thoroughness, “their complaint had been dealt with satisfactorily, well or very well”;

* 68 per cent – of respondents said “the time it took to deal with their complaints was ‘about right'”;

* 67 per cent – of respondents “thought the PCC staff who dealt with their complaint were helpful or very helpful”; and

* 78 per cent – of respondents felt that “taking everything into account about the service provided by the PCC that their case had been handled satisfactorily, well or very well”.

Source: Press Complaints Commission, published June 25 2013.