Law regarding the press

There is no state control or censorship of the newspaper and periodical press, and newspaper proprietors, editors and journalists are subject to the law in the same way as any other citizen. However, certain statutes include sections, which apply to the press. There are laws governing the extent of newspaper ownership in television and radio companies (see below), the transfer of newspaper assets, and the right of press representatives to be supplied with agendas and reports of meetings of local authorities.

There is a legal requirement to reproduce the printer's imprint (the printer's name and address) on all publications, including newspapers. Publishers are legally obliged to deposit copies of newspapers and other publications at the British Library. Publication of advertisements is governed by wide-ranging legislation, including public health, copyright, financial services and fraud legislation. Legal restrictions are imposed on certain types of prize competition.

Laws on contempt of court, official secrets and defamation are also relevant to the press. A newspaper may not publish anything, which might influence the result of judicial proceedings. The unauthorised acquisition and publication of official information in such areas as defense and international relations, where such unauthorised disclosure would be harmful, are offences under the Official Secrets Acts. These are restrictions on publication generally, not just through the printed press.

Most legal proceedings against the press are libel actions brought by private individuals. Legislation in 1990 laid down rules enabling the ITC and Radio Authority to keep ownership of the broadcasting media widely spread and to prevent undue concentrations of single and cross-media ownership, in the broader public interest. Local newspapers with more than a 50 per cent share of their market may now own a local radio station, providing at least one other independent local radio station is operating in that area.

Newspaper transfers and mergers are subject to the consent of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, usually after reference (where the total paid-for daily circulation of newspapers owned by the proprietors involved is 500,000 or more) to the Competition Commission. Moreover, different (specific) topics covered each day, for example, Monday includes Global markets, Capital markets, Global economy and Global communities.

Tuesday covers Enterprise (small business), market and media and Peter Ruehl (humorist). Wednesday has managed funds, special reports. Thursday has Saleroom (collectibles) and Peter Ruehl (humorist), Friday covers Review (issues, opinions), Legal Services, Professional Services, Recruitment advertisements, and Pierpont (by Trevor Sykes). For the weekend, it has Smart Money, Perspective, Observer and After Hours.