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The Boston Globe

Business

In abrupt change, Britain’s Cameron champions self-regulation for press

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that cross-party talks with other political leaders on regulating Britain’s rambunctious press had broken down and he would pursue his own proposal for a system of self-regulation after months of inquiries into the phone-hacking scandal

Cameron’s abrupt move placed new strains on his relationship with the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partner with his Conservative Party and raised the possibility that they may end up voting with the Labor opposition against Cameron’s proposal for a royal charter to underpin a new self-regulatory body.

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Last November, after months of hearings, a long-awaited report on the behavior of British newspapers embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal recommended that press regulation should be backed by parliamentary statute, curbing Britain’s 300-year-old tradition of broad press freedom.

Cameron opposed the idea and instead proposed that a new self-regulatory agency with the power to fine newspapers and take other measures to support victims of press intrusion into their privacy should be supported by a royal charter, a device used to give authority to and define the rights of major institutions like the BBC and the Bank of England.

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