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IPSO announces new rules

IPSO announces new rules

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has announced new rules and regulations granting it enhanced powers and independence.

Reforms of the regulations underpinning the regulator were put to those publishers who have signed up to IPSO in December of last year and are due to take effect from 1 March 2016. Please note that The Guardian, Observer, Financial Times, Evening Standard and Independent titles have yet to sign up to IPSO and currently regulate themselves.

The changes will allow IPSO to do the following:

  • Instigate an investigation in the absence of a complaint in appropriate circumstances.

  • Control and write its own complaints procedure.

  • Insist that a publisher issues quarterly statements as a sanction for breaching the Editors’ Code of Practice.

  • Issue its own financial sanctions guidance in consultation with the Regulatory Funding Company.

  • Issue fines of up to £1 million at the end of an investigation.

In addition, IPSO have stated that the reforms will mean that:

  • The rules for launching and carrying out a standards investigation are simpler and a number of ways in which a publisher can resist such an investigation have been reduced.

  • The remuneration of Board and Complaints Committee members is now set by the IPSO appointments panel.

  • IPSO has a new four-year funding deal with the media industry worth £10 million.

The chairman of IPSO, Sir Alan Moses, hailed the reforms as fundamental and far reaching improvements that will reinforce IPSO’s power to carry out its work free from the interference of the publishers it regulates or parliament.

In response to IPSO’s announcement, Hacked Off said that, apart from the £10 million financial deal, the changes are either trivial or merely acting to bring IPSO in line with the failed Press Complaints Commission.

IPSO is also aiming to set up a low-cost arbitration scheme for settling libel and privacy complaints and has put it out to tender. It is expected that the scheme will be available to all publishers signed up to IPSO but that some publishers in IPSO will be able to opt out of the scheme.

The rival regulator IMPRESS will open for complaints relating to the publishers it regulates in April 2016. IMPRESS has also submitted an application to the Press Recognition Panel for recognition under the Royal Charter created to implement the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. To obtain recognition it must show that it meets the standards of effectiveness and independence set out in Schedule 3 to the Royal Charter. It has currently signed up 10 independent publishers including the radical New Internationalist and crowdfunded Scottish investigative journalism website the Ferret. Under the Crime and Courts Act 2013, membership of the Royal Charter offers publishers immunity from exemplary damages in claims brought against them relating to the publication of news-related material.

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