Scottish ministers say they will not impose a UK-style press regulation system that forces newspapers to pay legal costs even if the publisher wins.
Nicola Sturgeon said the Conservative Government’s proposals will “threaten the viability” of local newspapers.
But there was no commitment of support from her MPs who refused to say whether they would take the same stance as the SNP leader in a vote on the UK proposals in Westminster.
Papers which sell in England and Wales and refuse to sign up to the new regulator Impress would be subject to the measures of the section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
If it makes onto the statue books, it will force newspapers to pay the legal bills of both sides in any defamation case – even if the publisher wins.
Ms Sturgeon told the Daily Record there will be no similar system in Scotland, where press regulation and justice is devolved.
“I think the behaviour that led to the Leveson inquiry on the part of elements of the media was unacceptable and despicable and the media has to learn those lessons and has to, in a sense, regulate its own behaviour so that kind of conduct is never seen again,” she added.
“But that doesn’t take away from the vital importance in any democracy of a free and questioning media that it is able to hold those in power robustly to account.
“All politicians get frustrated with the media almost on a daily basis but that in itself is a sign the media is doing its job.
She added: “I think Section 40 goes way, way too far in the wrong direction.
“It doesn’t apply in Scotland although obviously Scottish papers publishing in England would be affected by it.
“We, in Scotland, would not legislate in that way and I certainly hope Section 40 will not be implemented in its current form.”
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “We have not introduced statutory measures to incentivise participation in the regulatory system, as has happened in Westminster, and I can confirm we have no plans to do so.”
An SNP spokeswoman said the group at Westminster will “consider carefully any proposals on press regulation that come forward from the UK Government”.
“While press regulation and the operation of the courts is devolved to the Scottish Government and section 40 will not be introduced in Scotland, the UK government consulted on a range of options and SNP MPs will look at any proposals that come forward based on a balance of proper redress for victims and protection of the freedom of the press,” she added.
The bill was drawn up in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry, which investigated the culture, practices and ethics of the British press.
The majority of newspapers in the UK, including The Courier, are members of Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which is funded by the industry and has not sought official recognition.
Max Mosley, a financial backer of Impress and a victim of newspaper sting, said the section 40 proposals are “eminently fair” and will allow those who are not well off to access justice.
UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said that more than 140,000 individual responses were received by the January 10 deadline for the consultation.