British government holds off on media regulation, under pressure from newspapers

LONDON – British officials are holding off on plans for a state-backed media watchdog, the first sign that opposition from the newspaper industry is slowing down efforts to more closely regulate the country’s scandal-tainted press.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said Friday it was temporarily delaying the presentation of its plan for a new, government-backed regulator to give officials more time to examine an alternative proposal being floated by Britain’s newspaper industry.

The question of how best to police the U.K. press has been debated since the phone hacking scandal erupted in 2011, exposing a culture of breaking laws, corruption and coverup at the highest levels of British journalism.

Politicians have endorsed tighter regulation, but newspapers are resisting it by promoting their own, more media-friendly plan.