Member Briefing: Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)

09 September 2014 by @ 12:00

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) officially launched on Monday, 8 September 2014 as the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) ceased to take complaints from members of the public involving magazines and newspapers.

Here, PPA's Head of Public Affairs Owen Meredith answers key questions about the new regulator and explains how to sign up.

What is IPSO?

IPSO stands for the Independent Press Standards Organisation.  IPSO is the independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry and is the tough new regulator for the press which has been set up following the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.

IPSO administers the Editors' Code of Practice and takes active steps to ensure that publications adhere to it. The Editors' Code deals with issues such as accuracy, invasion of privacy, intrusion into grief or shock and harassment. The full Code is available here.

What is happening to the Press Complaints Commission?

At midnight on Sunday, 7 September, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) ceased operating. Complaints from the public about the press will now be handled by publishers themselves. For those who have signed up to the new regulator, IPSO will be able to adjudicate on complaints that have not been resolved between the complaint and the publishers after 28 days.

IPSO will also conduct its own investigations into editorial standards and compliance.

Why should I join IPSO?

The PPA would encourage publishers to join IPSO, especially those who were members of the PCC.

If you produce editorial content, it is likely that at some stage you will receive complaints from the public (however infrequent). IPSO provides a clear route to settle such complaints. As a member of IPSO, you have an insurance position to be able to deal with and resolve any complaints effectively.

We would also encourage you to join as this sends a strong and clear message to the Government that the press are united behind self-regulation. An independent regulator which covers a wide range of publishers including national newspapers, regional newspapers and magazines in all their forms, sends the strongest possible message to the Government that the industry stands united in favour of a free press and against state regulation of the media.

How will complaints be handled if I don’t join IPSO?

If you are not a member of IPSO, your publications sit outside the system of press regulation. This means you will have to resolve all complaints about your publications directly and may be more exposed to legal action and long, drawn-out complaints. Joining IPSO provides both complainants and publishers with an independent route to settle complaints.

IPSO is also able to offer advice and guidance to publishers. This can include pre-publication advice about information you may wish to publish, or the conduct of your journalists.

How do I join IPSO?

To join you will need to sign a membership agreement, which can be requested from PPA’s Head of Public Affairs, Owen Meredith. More than 90% of national newspapers, along with the majority of regional titles, have already signed up to IPSO alongside all of the consumer magazines represented on the PPA Board and many B2B publishers.

In the event that you do not enter into the contract with IPSO, and we would strongly recommend that you do, it would be helpful for you to let us know to whom complaints about your publications should be directed, and also what systems, if any, you will be putting in place to handle complaints.

Can I use the Editors’ code without joining IPSO?

The Editors’ Code of Practice is not a public document which can be used without consent by publishers or others. It is subject to the law of copyright, and any publisher who has not signed the IPSO contract, but who is seeking to rely on the Code after 8 September 2014, must seek the prior permission of the Regulatory Funding Company (the funding body for IPSO). This is particularly the case if the Code has been expressly or implicitly incorporated into your journalists’ contracts of employment or if it forms part of your publications’ complaints handling processes.

Where can I find more information?

Any PPA members with questions about IPSO should contact Owen by email or on 0207 400 7520.

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