In 2015, IMPRESS entered into an agreement with the Independent Press Regulation Trust (IPRT) for £3.8m in funding over a four-year period. In 2018, this was replaced with a new agreement with the IPRT for additional funding of £2.85m until 2022. In 2022, IMPRESS has entered into an agreement with the IPRT for further funding of £6.45m over an eight-year period. The IPRT’s funding has been guaranteed by the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust. Both the IPRT and AMCT are registered charities that support public benefit causes. These funding arrangements are scrutinised by the Press Recognition Panel and have been reviewed by the courts to ensure that they fully protect the independence of IMPRESS’ governance and regulatory decision making as required by the Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press.
IMPRESS also receives funding from annual regulatory fees paid by a growing number of regulated publishers and is in the process of developing a sustainable business model for the future, based on a growth in its membership, regulatory services, donations and grants from a broader portfolio of trusts and foundations.
In order to safeguard IMPRESS’s regulatory independence, it is crucial to put a firewall in place between IMPRESS and any donors. The IPRT grant can only be withdrawn in exceptional circumstances (for instance, if IMPRESS goes bankrupt) and there is no capacity for any donor to exert influence on IMPRESS. We believe that these arrangements are the best way to ensure that we are capable of fulfilling our obligations to the public, whilst protecting our independence.
In the words of the Charity Tribunal: ‘If [an independent] regulator cannot be established by the Government for constitutional reasons and ought not to be established by the industry itself for reasons of propriety and public confidence, then the charity sector is uniquely placed to be able to offer both the mechanism and the means by which a benefit to the community as a whole can be achieved.’
IMPRESS's funding arrangements have been reviewed by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP) according to the Royal Charter criteria in 2016 prior to recognising IMPRESS as an approved regulator in October 2016. These arrangemetns were subject to the PRP's cyclical review of IMPRESS's status in Novembers 2018, and subject to an open call for information.
In March 2019, the PRP confirmed that IMPRESS continued to meet each of the recognition criteria stated in the Royal Charter. Being recognised according to these criteria essentially means that IMPRESS is ‘independent of the print and online publishers it regulates, is appropriately funded, and has systems in place to protect the public.’ Read more information about IMPRESS' confirmed status.
The Royal Charter requires the PRP to review approved regulators to ensure they continue to meet the Charter’s recognition criteria. A cyclical review must be carried out as soon as reasonably practicable two years after a regulator has been recognised and three yearly thereafter. Being recognised according to these criteria essentially means that IMPRESS is “independent of the print and online publishers it regulates, and is appropriately funded.”