The judge overseeing the investigation into media ethics sparked by a phone hacking scandal has indicated that he expects to see a complete overhaul of the regulations imposed on the industry.

Lord Justice Brian Leveson suggested he would not go as far as calling for any kind of state regulation however.

Leveson was speaking to several editors and managers from the country's broadsheet newspapers on Tuesday and during several sessions laid out his initial thinking about how the industry should be governed in the future.

It won't be good enough, in my present view ... just to think that one can tinker around the edges, he said, while questioning the editor of the Financial Times Lionel Barber.

There have been wake-up calls in the past and everybody's woken up and then it all just appears to have drifted off again, he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the judicial inquiry into the state of Britain's media and its practices after Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid admitted it had hacked into the phones of celebrities and others to generate stories.

The admission prompted an uproar in 2011 and prompted Murdoch to shut the 168-year-old paper.

The newspaper industry, led by a string of competing and high profile editors, has since admitted that it needs to mend its ways but has appealed to the government not to crush its free speech and ability to investigate with draconian laws.

Setting his out early thinking on the likely changes, Leveson said the industry needed a regulatory body that was independent of government yet effective in meeting the needs of the public.

The existing regulator the Press Complaints Commission has been severely faulted for its role in the scandal and its inability to curb the ways of the notoriously aggressive tabloid press.

I would be very surprised if government regulation ever even entered my mind, Leveson said. I've not committed myself to anything ... but freedom of expression and freedom of the press are to my mind a fundamental bedrock of our society.

But that is not to say that there cannot be some kind of independent mechanism that deals with complaints, regulation and the resolution of disputes that doesn't involve the government, doesn't involve the state but is in some way set up so that it can operate and can require people to go through that route.

(Reporting by Kate Holton)