UK gov't: Press must face tougher penalties

By the Associated Press | February 12, 2012 | 8:15 AM EST

FILE - A Thursday Dec. 4, 2008 photo from files showing author JK Rowling reading to around 200 schoolchildren at a tea party in the Parliament Hall Edinburgh Thursday Dec, 4, 2008, where she read passages from her new book "The Tales of Beedle the Bard". J.K Rowling described how press intrusion made her feel like a hostage, Hugh Grant traded insults with a newspaper editor and a former tabloid reporter insisted that only evildoers had any need of privacy. The first phase of Britain's media ethics inquiry ended this week after 40 days of dramatic hearings that heard from 184 witnesses _ celebrities, journalists, editors, academics and lawyers _ and revealed wildly differing perspectives on the murky workings of the tabloid press. (AP Photo/ David Cheskin, File, Pool)

LONDON (AP) — The British Cabinet minister responsible for the media says the press must face tougher penalties for breaches of standards in the wake of the tabloid phone-hacking scandal.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC on Sunday that newspapers must change their system of self-regulation, but insisted the government should not have any role.

He said the written media need a tougher system of industry-led regulation, with the capacity to hand out "credible punishment" for transgressions.

The Press Complaints Commission — the current watchdog — can demand a newspaper publishes an apology, but has no power to issue fines. Broadcasters have a separate regulatory system.

Britain's media ethics inquiry led by judge Brian Leveson is expected to recommend major changes to press regulation.