Recently I considered the supposedly independent pressregulator proposed by the papers themselves, and concluded that the so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) was not. Now, those highly sound people at the Media Standards Trust (MST) have studied IPSO in rather more detail, but have come to more or less the same conclusion.
Fraser Nelson searches for his tape measure
IPSO is, it must be remembered, a body that has been talked up ad infinitum, and indeed ad nauseam, by the likes of the Mail, Telegraph and Sun. The editor of the Spectator, Fraser Nelson, told Mail readers that “The newspapers have already agreed to implement, to the millimetre, the recommendations of Sir Brian Leveson’s inquiry into press regulation”. He was taking about IPSO.
So what has the MST concluded? Sadly for Nelson and his pals, they have not agreed with his analysis. “Lord Justice Leveson made 47 recommendations for press regulation in his Report of November 29th 2012. Of these 47, 38 relate to self-regulators” they explained. So we’re looking for IPSO, if it does what Fraser Nelson claims, to meet or exceed the spec of 38 recommendations.
Sadly the news is not good: “According to this analysis, of these 38 Leveson recommendations, IPSO satisfies 12, and fails to satisfy 20. It is unclear, given the information provided to date, whether IPSO satisfies the other 6 ... of the 20 recommendations that IPSO fails, many are key elements of the Leveson system, including independence from industry, access to justice, and complaints”.
Let’s take the two areas I emphasised. First, independence: “At almost every level the regulator is dependent on the industry, such as to give the industry significant influence and even control over the regulator”. Sounds rather like the PCC. And complaints? You’ll love this one: “The IPSO complaints process is remarkably similar to that of the PCC”. Well, knock me down with a feather.
That some of the Leveson recommendations are satisfied by IPSO, but that so many are not, suggests that the press have decided to yield a little ground and throw their opponents a few scraps in the hope that they can brazen out the subsequent debate, and then assume the campaigners and politicians will go away and leave them to carry on as before, especially with a General Election coming in 2015.
Meanwhile, perhaps Fraser Nelson would like to explain how his analysis diverges so significantly from that of the MST, which has gone through each relevant Leveson recommendation (starting at Page 26) and shown why those not satisfied by IPSO fall short. It would be most interesting to discover how this means implementing those recommendations “to the millimetre”.
One would hate to find that he was not being totally honest with the Mail’s readers.