What are your funding arrangements?
In the long term, we expect to generate income from a range of sources, including regulatory fees. In the meantime, we have obtained funding from the Independent Press Regulation Trust (IPRT), a charity which exists to promote high standards of journalism. The IPRT is able to accept donations from anyone who wishes to support independent press regulation, and it can award grants to any organisation that shares this charitable purpose.
In 2015, we entered into a long-term agreement with the IPRT for £3.8m in funding over the next four years. We understand that, at this point, the IPRT’s funding has been guaranteed by the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust, but that other funders may contribute to the Trust in future. This grant is enough to cover our core costs for this period whilst we develop our income from regulatory fees.
The IPRT IMPRESS Funding Agreement is typical of charitable funding agreements. It ensures that the charity operates as a buffer between any donor from whom it receives funds and any self-regulator, like IMPRESS, that applies to it.
What’s the relationship between IMPRESS and the Government?
IMPRESS is a Leveson-compliant regulator and is currently the only organisation that has applied for recognition by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP). The PRP was set up at arm’s length by the Government in response to Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations. IMPRESS is seeking recognition from the PRP as the first independent press regulator in the UK. The Chair of the PRP, Dr David Wolfe has said: ‘The Panel works in the public interest by supporting and promoting a free press in a free and fair society.’
What is Section 40?
Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 gives publishers a choice: to join a recognised press regulator and take advantage of a low-cost arbitration scheme or not to join a recognised regulator, in which case they may be liable for the claimant’s costs in any legal action for libel, breach of privacy or harassment. Publishers which join a recognised regulator will thereby be able to pursue more investigative journalism, confident that they cannot be deterred by the chilling effect of legal threats. Whilst the majority of provisions in the Crime and Courts Act have come into force, the Government has not yet commenced section 40.
What is Leveson 2?
The Leveson Inquiry was set up by the Government to investigate the phone hacking scandal. The second part of the Inquiry was intended to cover specific claims about phone-hacking and the role of the police. This part of the Inquiry – known as ‘Leveson 2’ is currently on hold and the Government have not confirmed whether it will go ahead.
Is IMPRESS a regulator only for hyperlocals?
Some of the first publications to join IMPRESS are so-called ‘hyperlocal’ sites and newspapers, covering small geographical areas. Others operate at a national or international level. We are open to applications from all news publishers who wish to benefit from our services.
What is the current status of your recognition process?
IMPRESS has provided the PRP with additional information following its initial call for information and the points which were raised by third parties.
The PRP has now considered that there is sufficient amendment to some sections of the application to put out a second call for information. This opened on 4 May 2016 and will run until 2 June. After this time the executive staff of the PRP will decide if they need any further clarification from IMPRESS on any points raised and will then validate and verify IMPRESS’s application for recognition. The Board of the PRP will make a decision on IMPRESS’s application at a future meeting. It is not possible to say how long this process will take.
Any further questions about the recognition process should be directed to the PRP.
What is your relationship with other organisations?
We agree with groups including Hacked Off, the Media Standards Trust, the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and the National Union of Journalists that the Leveson recommendations for independent self-regulation of the press were sensible and proportionate. We are grateful for the NUJ’s formal expression of support for IMPRESS and look forward to consulting them on our standards code, our whistleblowing hotline and other shared interests. However, IMPRESS is entirely constitutionally independent and autonomous.