NMA: IMPRESS Fails to Address ‘Fundamental Flaws’ in Renewed Bid for Recognition
IMPRESS has failed to overcome fundamental flaws in its application for recognition by the Press Recognition Panel such as its lack of support from the press and its dependency on funding from a single rich donor Max Mosley, the News Media Association said today.
Responding to IMPRESS’ revised application to the PRP, the NMA said it would be “a travesty” if IMPRESS were granted recognition as an effective and independent regulator.
In its submission to the PRP, the NMA said IMPRESS had failed to address deep-seated and overarching objections to its suitability as a press regulator, including:
- IMPRESS’ dependency for its funding on Max Mosley, a wealthy donor engaged in a personal campaign to bring the press to heel following tabloid revelations about his own private life;
- IMPRESS’ lack of credibility as a regulator due to the absence of any support from the mainstream press industry. IMPRESS was created by individuals seeking to reform the press rather than from a desire to implement self regulation;
- Its lack of a standards code which means that neither the PRP nor its own participating publishers know anything about the code of standards it expects its members to observe. This alone should automatically disqualify it from recognition;
- IMPRESS is financially unsustainable because the Mosley funding could be withdrawn at any time, any income from the handful of participating hyperlocal publishers would not cover its stationery bill, and the fees proposed for large publishers would be far too high to attract any members;
- The lack of hands on experience of the press industry among the members of the IMPRESS Board. A regulator needs individuals with experience and reputations in the industry it seeks to regulate in order to be credible;
- Its failure to address concerns around the costs of its proposed arbitration scheme.
The NMA said that IMPRESS was encouraging the PRP to engage in a “box-ticking exercise” to grant recognition which is insufficient as the PRP is obliged to take a wider view of IMPRESS’ suitability as a regulator, as laid out in the Royal Charter.
The Charter says that the PRP: “shall consider the concepts of effectiveness, fairness and objectivity of standards, independence and transparency of enforcement and compliance, credible powers and remedies, reliable funding and effective accountability, as articulated in the Leveson Report.”
The NMA added that “the PRP must at all times act reasonably and fairly, consistent with its position as a public body exercising public functions, particularly given the potential consequences of recognition for the vast majority of publishers who have not signed up to IMPRESS. A failure by the PRP to act fairly and reasonably would be clearly susceptible to successful challenge in the courts.”
This submission is made in answer to the Response Paper dated 27 April 2016 filed by IMPRESS following the PRP’s Call for Information about IMPRESS’s original application for recognition. This follows the NMA’s 45-page response to the Press Recognition Panel’s call for information in March following IMPRESS’ initial application for recognition.