- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2013

Queen Elizabeth II signed a charter this week, creating a new watchdog group to oversee the press and make sure reporters and editors don’t do a repeat of a recent phone-hacking scandal that saw major news outlets tapping into the private information of celebrities and royals alike.

Media outlets don’t have to sign the charter — but it’s significant enough of an order that publishers sought to block its implementation in recent court hearing, the Los Angeles Times reported. And most in the media field are outraged.

“It’s the end of 300 years of press freedom if you’ve got politicians deciding to judge how stiff the standards of regulation are,” said Roger Alton, editor of the Times of London, in BBC. “Imagine this: In America, a sentence coming out in the papers saying, ‘Last night both houses of Congress agreed [on] a new system to regulate the press.’ “

The charter is the result of a two-year investigation of a 2011 phone-hacking scandal that implicated dozens of journalists at various media outlets. The public was outraged while Prime Minister David Cameron pushed for action.

The new watchdog group will have the power to fine media ethics’ offenders up to $1.4 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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