PRP Defers IMPRESS Recognition Decision

The Press Recognition Panel has decided to defer its decision on IMPRESS’ application for recognition to allow a third call for information to take place following concerns about process raised by the News Media Association and other industry bodies.

Campaigning group Index on Censorship welcomed the delay and voiced its fear of “punitive measures for small publishers” and the stifling of investigative journalism which could happen as a result of IMPRESS gaining recognition.

At a PRP Board meeting on Tuesday, held in public and attended by around 30 people  including the NMA, PRP chair David Wolfe said the PRP had received correspondence from organisations including the NMA, Associated Newspapers, 89up, the Professional Publishers Association, and the Scottish Newspaper Society making “points about the processes we have followed to IMPRESS’ application.”

Mr Wolfe added: “The organisations I mention have raised a concern that the indicative view on the interpretation of aspects of the Charter which we expressed earlier in the summer after our second call for information might have prompted them or others to provide us with additional information about the IMPRESS application had it been known at the time of our second call for information.

“Mindful of that, and keen to ensure that everybody has the fullest opportunity to respond so that we have the fullest possible basis to take a robust and independent decision on IMPRESS’ application, the Board has today decided today to defer its consideration of the IMPRESS application to allow a further 20 working day call for information.

“The call for information seeks additional information relating to IMPRESS’ application as it now stands in the light of the indicative view on the interpretation of Charter criteria which we have previously provided.

“We expect to open that process in the next few days. And the Board will consider responses at a further Board meeting at the earliest opportunity.”

In a statement following the announcement, Index on Censorship said it welcomed the delay and hoped that IMPRESS would not be recognised because of the “punitive measures for small publishers” and  stifling of investigative journalism which could happen as a result.

It said: “Index on Censorship welcomes the delay in the Royal Charter recognition of Impress by the Press Regulation Panel and hopes it provides an opportunity for further consultation. We are extremely concerned that recognition of Impress has the potential to introduce punitive measures for small publishers and to stifle investigative journalism. We are also concerned that about the transparency of its funding. These are factors that threaten freedom of the press.

“We hope the decision today gives an opportunity for a rethink.”