What is the Press Complaints Commission?
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is an independent body set up to deal with complaints about the editorial content of newspapers and magazines (and their websites) and the conduct of journalists who work for print media.
We can also help individuals by representing their interests to editors in advance of an article being published about them.
Our purpose is to serve the public by holding editors to account. We strive to protect the rights of individuals, while preserving appropriate freedom of expression for the press. We also aim to promote high standards by developing clear guidance and practical principles through our rulings, and offering training and advice to editors and journalists.
Ten of the Commission’s 17 members (including the Chairman) are public members with no connection to the newspaper and magazine industry. The remaining seven are serving editors of newspapers and magazines.
The PCC administers and enforces the Editors’ Code of Practice, which are the rules the newspaper and magazine industry have agreed to follow.
The Code deals with issues such as accuracy and privacy in reporting and sets out requirements for how journalists should behave in gathering the news.
The Code is written – and updated annually – by a separate organisation called the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee. Anyone can make suggestions for possible Code changes. For more information please visit the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee website.
There are several sections of the Editors’ Code of Practice that relate specifically to children. For instance, journalists aren’t allowed to interview or photograph children on issues to do with their welfare without parental consent. The Code also makes clear that young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.
You can learn more about how the Code relates to material about children here.
In addition to the Code, magazines that are directly targeted at teenagers, such as Bliss or Top of the Pops, also fall within the jurisdiction of the Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel. Read more about TMAP.
Concerns about how magazines are displayed in shops are not dealt with by the PCC, but by the Press Distribution Forum. You can find more information about that here.
Making a complaint
Examining and resolving complaints is a key part of what the PCC does and we want to hear your concerns.
You can make a complaint to us through ParentPort’s complaints section.
If you’re not sure about any aspect of the complaints process or about whether the PCC can deal with your case, please call our helpline on 0845 600 2757.
If you don’t have a specific complaint, please feel free to send us any other comments or feedback, either about things you have seen in newspapers and magazines (including their websites) or about the PCC. You can contact us through ParentPort’s Have Your Say section. We are always striving to improve our services and you can help us by sharing your views.
Dealing with complaints
When we receive a complaint we judge if there’s been a breach of the Editors’ Code. If there hasn’t, we’ll explain why – but we’ll also send a copy of your complaint to the editor of the publication for their information.
If there has been a breach of the Code, we will act as a mediator and try to obtain a suitable solution for you (by arranging a public apology in the offending title for instance, or ensuring the removal of material from a newspaper’s website).
If mediation is unsuccessful, we will make a formal ruling against the publication in question, which it is then obliged to publish in full. PCC rulings also act as benchmarks for future behaviour by the press so they’re important not only as a sanction but as a way of setting standards.
Want to find out more?
More information about our work and how you can use our services can be found on the PCC website.
Our helpline staff are also available to discuss specific queries on 0845 600 2757.
If you would like to receive regular information from the PCC, you can sign up to our mailing list here.