The British newspaper industry on Thursday rejected government proposals to regulate the media in the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

The government had proposed an independent system — backed by a Royal Charter on the lines of BBC — as recommended by the Leveson inquiry into media ethics.

The plan was backed by all three main parties —Tories, their coalition partners Liberal Democrats and the opposition Labour Party. But newspaper owners said it amounted to state regulation of the media and threatened press freedom.

They presented an alternative plan which is closely based on the Leveson recommendations but “without state sponsored regulation”.

Only The Guardian and The Independent did not sign up. Critics said newspapers had “learned nothing” from the hacking scandal.