About the Press Recognition Panel (PRP)
- +What is the Press Recognition Panel?
- +Why was the PRP set up?
- +What is the Royal Charter?
- +When was the PRP established?
- +Is the PRP responsible for regulating the press?
- +What guarantees the PRP’s independence?
- +Isn’t the PRP damaging press freedom?
The Press Recognition Panel (PRP) is an independent body set up by Royal Charter to oversee press regulation. The role of the PRP is to “recognise” press regulators who apply to us as meeting the 29 criteria (numbered 1 to 23) in the Charter. If we conclude that a press regulator meets the criteria, then it is known as an “approved regulator”.
The PRP ensures that, among other things, approved regulators are independent of the publishers they regulate, are funded properly to do their job, are open to all publishers, and provide the public with proper opportunities to raise concerns about the conduct of the regulator’s members.
The PRP must also carry out reviews to make sure approved regulators continue to meet the Charter requirements and the PRP must withdraw recognition if they don’t.
In addition, the PRP must report to Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the public on how the recognition system is working and on the impact of the PRP’s work. We will also inform the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The PRP was created as a result of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, which followed widespread concern about alleged unlawful activities carried out by some sections of the press, such as phone hacking.
The Royal Charter is the mechanism by which the PRP was created. It was sealed on 30 October 2013.
Schedule 3 of the Charter lists 29 criteria that regulators have to meet in order to be recognised. The criteria were designed to secure press freedom and protect the public interest.
The Charter can only be amended by a two thirds majority of each of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Scottish Parliament, and with the unanimous agreement of the PRP Board.
No. The PRP plays a part in ensuring the freedom of the press while protecting the public interest. The PRP’s role is to ensure that regulators of the UK press are independent, properly independent, properly funded, and able to protect the public.
About press regulators
- +What is a press self-regulator (or regulator)?
- +What is a relevant publisher?
- in the course of a business
- which is written by different authors; and
- is subject to editorial control.
- Special interest titles;
- Scientific or academic journals;
- Public bodies or charities publishing news in connection with their functions;
- Company news publications;
- Book publishers; and
- Micro-businesses that are a multi-author blog or publishing news incidental to their business.
- +What press regulators currently exist?
- +What does it mean for publishers?
- +What is a ‘hyperlocal’?
- +Can you choose to ‘opt-in’ to an approved regulator if you do not fall under the definition of ‘relevant publisher’?
- +How will I know if the recognition system is effective?
The Charter defines a regulator as “an independent body formed by or on behalf of relevant publishers for the purpose of conducting regulatory activities in relation to their publications”.
The legal requirements are defined in section 41 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. In broad terms, to qualify as a ‘relevant publisher’ four tests must be met. They are:
Publishing ‘news-related material;
Various types of publishers are exempt even if they meet the four tests. They are:
Further guidance can be found in the DCMS Guidance note: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/191913/Leveson_guide.pdf
Press regulator IMPRESS was recognised as an approved regulator by the PRP Board on 25 October 2016.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) also exists. IPSO has stated that it does not intend to seek recognition from the PRP.
The PRP must report to Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the public in September 2016 if there is no approved regulator or if in our view the system of regulation does not cover all significant relevant publishers.
PRP and the development of the recognition process
- +What does it mean when the PRP ‘recognises’ a regulator?
- +What was your consultation on proposals for recognition of press self-regulators about?
- +What was the outcome of the consultation?
- +What changes did you make to the recognition process as a result of the consultation?
- To some of the proposed indicators and evidence.
- To the application process – where we have now decided to publish the full application received (not just the applicant’s name) and give those who wish to comment longer to do so (20 rather than 15 days).
- To make it clear that we were not suggesting that there could be come form of ‘conditional recognition’.
- +How widely did you consult with the general public?
It means that a regulator has applied to the PRP and the PRP has assessed it against the 29 criteria that are set out in the Royal Charter created after the Leveson Inquiry. If the PRP is satisfied that the regulator meets all the criteria, the PRP will recognise it. The regulator will then be an ‘approved regulator’.
Having carefully considered the responses to the consultation we made changes:
Opening for applications for recognition
- +What does being 'open for applications' mean?
- +What are the “benefits” or “incentives” for a publisher to be a member of an approved regulator?
- Protect ordinary people, not just the rich;
- Protect the press from the chilling effect of large legal costs; and
- Remove political influence on press regulation.
- +What are ‘exemplary damages’?
- +Would you recognise a regulator which did not have any members or with only a limited number of small organisations as members?
- +How can you assess an application if the regulator is not yet fully operational?
- +How can the public contribute to the recognition process?
- +How much will it cost a Regulator to apply for recognition?
Regulators are now welcome to apply to the PRP for recognition. We have published guidance on our website to support regulators through the process. Once we have recognised a regulator, the Charter requires us to undertake a cyclical review after two years and then every three years after that. We may also review recognition at any time if there are exceptional circumstances that make such a review necessary and there is a significant public interest in doing so.
Applying for recognition also makes a clear public statement that a regulator is adhering to a framework designed to protect the public interest.
The recognition system and the Charter sit within a wider legislative landscape, which includes the provisions within the Crime and Courts Act 2013. The PRP has no influence over the Act.
Under the Act, from 3 November 2015 (the anniversary of the establishment of the PRP) publishers who are not a member of an approved regulator face the threat of exemplary damages in privacy and libel cases. Publishers who are members of an approved regulator will be protected from this.
You can read the relevant sections of the Crime and Courts Act here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/22/part/2/crossheading/publishers-of-newsrelated-material-damages-and-costs/enacted.
When section 40 of the Act is brought into force, publishers who choose not to be a member of an approved regulator would have to pay both sides’ costs in legal cases whether they win or lose; those which join a recognised regulator would have their legal costs (win or lose) paid in the event that someone brought relevant court proceedings against them rather than raising the point in an arbitration. Section 40 does not come into force automatically. It must be commenced by the Government. Indeed, our view is that section 40 should be commenced immediately. Commencement would complete a system that will:
When a regulator first applies for recognition, we will publish the full application on our website (redacted where necessary) together with a ‘call for information’ from the public, which will be widely publicised. This will be the opportunity for all interested parties to share facts and evidence with us to inform our assessment. We will allow 20 working days to respond.
At the moment, nothing. The Charter makes provision for charging fees for recognition three years after the Charter took effect – so not until 3 November 2017. Until then we will make no charge. We will consult on our proposals for fee structures early next year.
- +Does everyone have to use an approved regulator’s arbitration scheme?
- +Will there be a single arbitration scheme for all publishers?
About the PRP’s staff and budget
- +Who are the members of the board of the PRP and how were they appointed?
- +What is the PRP’s budget?
- +How many members of staff do you have at the moment?
- +What happens after 3 years?
- +How is the PRP an independent body, when you receive government funding?
- +If the PRP is independent, why must it report to Parliament each year?
We have six part-time board members, including the Chair, all of whom were chosen by an independent appointments panel. David Wolfe QC is the Chair. The other members of the Board are Harry Cayton, Emma Gilpin Jacobs, Carolyn Regan and Harry Rich.
The PRP is independent of any other body or influence, including from government and the press. Our Board Members were chosen by an independent appointments committee. The PRP is committed to openness and transparency and publishes notes of Board meetings, correspondence and other documents on its website for the public to view.
The PRP must report to Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the public, and we will engage with and meet anyone with an interest in our work. We are open and transparent about everything that we do. Our independent reporting allows all stakeholders to assess the state of the recognition system, but it does not allow anyone to unduly influence our work. We also inform the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly about our work.