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September 6, 2013

Publishers set to sign contracts on new IPSO press regulator next month

By Dominic Ponsford

Newspaper and magazine publishers are said to be close to finalising details of a new Independent Press Standards Organisation to replace the Press Complaints Commission.
According to a statement issued this afternoon, publishers are set to sign contracts binding them into the new system of press regulation next month.
The Industry Implementation group, which includes representatives from across the national and regional press and the magazine industry, met on Tuesday to further discuss creating a new system of press regulation based on the Royal Charter submitted by publishers' body Pressbof to the Privy Council.
The new regulator would have powers to investigate wrongdoing and fine publishers up to £1m in extreme cases. But it is not as independent from the press as a rival statute-backed system proposed by MPs in a rival Royal Charter and it has been condemned by pressure group Hacked Off.
Guardian Media Group has been particularly critical about the proposed new system, voicing fears that it would effectively be under the control of News UK, Associated Newspapers and Telegraph Media Group.
Press Gazette understands that some of the points GMG raised have led to changes in the proposed scheme which were agreed at Tuesday's meeting.
Both the industry and Parliament-backed Royal Charters are set to be considered by the Privy Council, possibly next month.
The new regulation system needs to be okayed by a Royal Charter-backed official recognition body if it is to insulate publishers from the threat of exemplary damages in libel actions.
Chairman of the Industry Implementation Group Paul Vickers said in a statement:
The Industry Implementation Group – including representatives from across the national, regional, periodical and Scottish press – met earlier this week to finalise the legal and contractual documentation that will establish the new press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Very significant progress has been made.

A number of suggestions, both from publishers and from other parties, have been incorporated and the four key documents will shortly be ready for a final consultation across the newspaper and magazine industry. Work is also well under way on the financing arrangements for IPSO; and the Foundation Group under the Chairmanship of Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers is undertaking the task of selecting an independent appointments panel to appoint the first board.

We hope that we will therefore be in a position to begin signing contracts that will establish IPSO during late September and October, with a view to implementation of the new regulatory system, fully compliant with the Leveson principles, in the early part of the new year."

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