JUST four per cent of people think a press regulator should be funded by donations from wealthy individuals and trusts, the Impress model, compared with 49 per cent who believe it should be funded by the newspaper industry itself, as the Independent Press Standards Organisation is, a new YouGov poll has found.
In his report into the culture, ethics and practices of the press published in November 2012, Lord Justice Leveson said that a regulator for the press should be funded by its members, and IPSO – which is funded entirely by member publishers – was subsequently established to regulate the press.
A new YouGov poll published today has found that the public agree that a press regulator should be funded by the industry (49 per cent) while just four per cent believe that a regulator should be funded by a wealthy individual or trust.
Impress, the state-recognised regulator for the press which not a single significant publisher has signed up to, is funded by Max Mosley.
Lynne Anderson, News Media Association deputy chief executive, said: “This survey demonstrates conclusively that a regulatory regime led by Impress – which is completely reliant upon funding from one wealthy individual, Max Mosley – cannot command the confidence of the public.
“IPSO is funded in its entirety by its member national, regional and local newspaper publishers which is the funding model the public want and expect from an industry which is committed to robust self-regulation.
“It is also abundantly clear from the poll that there is absolutely no public appetite for further activity from the Government in this area – such as the reopening of the Leveson Inquiry – when there are other much more pressing priorities at hand.”
The YouGov poll also found that the public overwhelmingly believe the Government should be focussing its attention and resources on areas other than press regulation which came at the very bottom of a list of 16 issues the Government should focus on over the next few years.
The poll found that just one per cent of respondents thought press regulation should be among the top four priorities, after airport expansion (two per cent). Top four priorities were Brexit (53 per cent), health (48 per cent), immigration and asylum (45 per cent) and the economy (44 per cent).
Commissioned by the NMA, the poll also found that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of people believe that news on social media platforms like Facebook – which are currently unregulated - should be subject at least to the same level of regulation as newspapers or even tighter regulation.
Britain’s press is subject to numerous criminal and civil laws covering news gathering and reporting. The vast majority of newspapers and magazines have also signed up voluntarily to a system of tough, independent self-regulation under IPSO.
The YouGov poll comes a week before the end of a Government consultation exercise into the possible triggering of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which would mean newspapers which refuse to accept state press regulation would be ordered to pay both sides’ costs in court actions for libel and privacy – even when we win.
The so-called costs sanctions are designed as an incentive to make newspaper publishers join Impress, the regulator recognised by the Government-appointed Press Recognition Panel under the Royal Charter.
Publishers that are members of Impress would be exempt from the costs sanctions if they made use of its arbitration scheme.
But even this could cost more than £6,000 plus unspecified damages for every complaint.
For independent publishers like the Newbury Weekly News these are unaffordable penalties.
It is rare for the Newbury Weekly News to incur any legal fees during the course of a year.
We employ journalists who are trained in media law and we set the highest standards of accuracy and fairness. When we do make a mistake we are quick to correct it and apologise.
This poorly thought-out law could be the final nail in the coffin for the local press.
If you value a free press and the vital role newspapers like the Newbury Weekly News play in our democracy then please do take part in the online consultation being run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport into Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
Please support the NWN’s position that Section 40 will not ‘incentivise’ publishers to join the state regulator and that Parliament should repeal Section 40 in full.
You can find the consultation, which closes on January 10, 2017, at www.research.net/r/9WH5LV3