IMPRESS gives evidence to Fox/Sky merger Inquiry

IMPRESS CEO Jonathan Heawood and COO Ed Procter recently gave evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority Inquiry into the 21st Century Fox / Sky merger. The purpose of the session held at the end of October, at which IPSO also gave evidence, was to assist the Inquiry in understanding the press regulation landscape and the progress that had been made during the five years since Leveson reported.The Inquiry was particularly interested in the key differences between the Editors’ Code and the IMPRESS Standards Code, which was adopted by all publishers regulated by IMPRESS in July. 

In many respects, the two Codes cover similar ground. However, Jonathan and Ed highlighted some significant differences which were designed to raise standards in the areas of public interest journalism, fake news, discrimination, and hate speech. Here are 5 of the key differences identified:

  1. As an independent regulator IMPRESS owns and makes final decisions about all aspects of its Standards Code. This ensures that the Code strikes the right balance between the public interest and the freedom of the press.The IMPRESS Standards Code was developed following a comprehensive consultation exercise involving the general public, civil society groups and the news publishing industry.
  2. What is meant by “in the public interest” is clearly and comprehensively set out in the IMPRESS Standards Code.
  3. The IMPRESS Standards Code includes a presumption that corrections will normally be made with equal prominence.
  4. The problem of hate speech is tackled head on in the IMPRESS Code via a specific clause which says that publishers must not incite hatred against any group on the basis of protected characteristics such as age, gender, disability, race or religion etc.
  5. The IMPRESS Code provides the opportunity for representative groups (not just affected individuals) to bring complaints to IMPRESS about news content that makes prejudicial, pejorative or irrelevant references to a person’s protected characteristics, if the complaint is in the public interest.