The press watchdog is considering expanding its scope to handle complaints against inaccurate newspaper reports in the hope of boosting public confidence in the media. The Hong Kong Press Council's terms of reference confine it to receiving and handling complaints relating to intrusion of privacy or articles of an indecent or sensational nature. Council vice-chairman Au Pak-kuen said members had been discussing in the past few months whether to handle complaints about inaccurate reports. 'Complaints against inaccurate reports account for about half of the complaints against newspapers that we have received in recent years,' he said. 'We could only tell the complainants that we could not handle the complaints because they are outside the existing scope of our work.' The council will discuss the idea at the next meeting in September. Au said the move was partly in response to growing public concern in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Citing the growing dissatisfaction among Britons with the Press Complaints Commission in Britain, Au said there was a need for the council to meet expectations of a higher ethical standard among newspapers. Founded in 2000, the Hong Kong Press Council was the first selfregulatory body to handle complaints against local newspapers. Its membership covers 10 newspapers, including the South China Morning Post. 'Many council members are worried that if we stick to our existing practice, we will let members of the public down. It's not conducive to boost public confidence in the council and local newspapers,' Au said. He said the council might approach the newspaper alleged to have published inaccurate reports if the complaint was related to factual errors, and ask them to run a correction. 'We are also considering the possibility of presenting a summary of complaints relating to inaccurate reports in our annual report.' But Au said they had no intention of launching investigations into those complaints because of insufficient resources. The council is not a statutory body and has no power to sanction newspapers which have breached professional ethics. The phone-hacking scandal in Britain has triggered a worldwide debate on greater media controls. In its inquiry report in 2009, the British commission concluded there was no evidence that News of the World executives knew about the phone hacking undertaken by individual staff, and that 'there did not seem to be anything concrete to support the implication that there had been a concealed criminal conspiracy to intrude into people's privacy'. British Prime Minister David Cameron launched a scathing attack on the commission last month, branding it 'ineffective and lacking in rigour' and demanded 'a new system entirely'. Siu Sai-wo, chief editor of Sing Tao Daily and a council member, said he supported any move to enhance professional standards among local newspapers. 'But it would incur lots of technical difficulties if the council handled complaints about inaccurate reports. Members of the public will consider the council a toothless tiger if it does not investigate the complaints it receives.'