The Press Recognition Panel, the body set up to approve would-be industry watchdogs, has launched its consultation on how it should apply the criteria detailed in the Royal Charter put in place in the wake of the Leveson report.
The document details what the Panel describes as a “recognition matrix” which it says could guide applicants in making an application, and provide the Panel itself with “the indicators and types of possible evidence we could use to determine whether an application meets the Scheme of Recognition”.
The 28 criteria detailed in the matrix include requirements for the independence of an appointments panel to select the regulator’s board, and requirements for the independence of the board itself.
They also say that would-be regulators may not have ant serving editors on their boards, but should “comprise a majority of people who are independent of the press” while at the same time including “a sufficient number of people with experience of the industry (throughout the United Kingdom) who may include former editors and senior or academic journalists”.
Any regulator seeking approval under the Charter will also have to offer an arbitration system and have the power to levy fines of up to £1 million on subscribing news organisations which its finds have seriously or systemically breached its Code of Conduct.
The recognition matrix is divided into three columns – one detailing the Charter criteria, one giving the Panel’s proposed indicators for meeting the criteria, in those cases in which it considers such elaboration necessary, and a third giving examples of possible types of evidence applicants might wish to provide to demonstrate compliance with the criteria.
The Panel’s consultation, launched on Monday, will run until Friday 31 July 2015.
The Panel is due to publish the final criteria for would-be regulators, and guidance for those organisations applying for recognition in September 2015.
The start of the Press Recognition Panel’s work will come shortly before sections 34-42 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 come into effect, in November.
These provisions will allow courts to impose exemplary or aggravated damages on publications which are not signed up to a recognised regulator, and to award costs against such a publisher even if it wins a defamation or privacy claim.
At present it appears that only one would-be regulator, the Impress Project, headed by journalist Jonathan Heawood, is preparing to apply for to the Panel for recognition under the charter.
Impress – the Independent Monitor for the Press – has said it is in discussions with a number of as yet un-named publishers which are interested in signing up to it as a regulator.
But the majority of the national and regional press and magazine industry has already signed up to Ipso, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the only regulator currently at work, which has already declared that it will not seek recognition under the Royal Charter.
The Press Recognition Panel will be conducting a series of events on its consultation, including in Belfast, Glasgow, Durham. Birmingham and Manchester. Details and dates are available on its website.
Details of the consultation and how to respond are available here.
This article originally appeared on the online subscription service Media Lawyer and is reproduced with permission and thanks.