The Press Recognition Panel (PRP) was created by Royal Charter on 3 November 2014. Its role is to consider whether independent press regulators meet, and continue to meet, the recognition criteria listed 1 – 23 in the Charter.
We are responsible for:
- determining applications for recognition;
- reviewing whether a regulator should continue to be recognised;
- withdrawing recognition if the regulator is no longer entitled to it;
- reporting on any successes or failures of the recognition system.
In order to be granted recognition, applicants must be able to demonstrate that they meet all of the recognition criteria. If an applicant meets those criteria, the PRP will recognise them.
The Charter allows the PRP to charge a regulator a fee for an application or cyclical review starting from the third anniversary of the date the Charter took effect. Until that date (3 November 2017) there was no charge for making an application for recognition.
This guidance is split into four sections:
- +Section 1: About this guidance
- publishing ‘news-related’ material;
- in the course of a business;
- which is written by different authors;
- 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;
- micro-businesses that are a multi-author blog or publishing news incidental to their business.
- the application has been received;
- the call for information has been issued;
- the call for information period has closed;
- the application is being processed;
- the date of the Board review of the application;
- the outcome of the Board review of the application.
- +Section 2: Making an application
- published on the applicant’s website with relevant link/s sent;
- by email to: email@example.com
- +Section 3: Assessing an application
- +Section 4: After recognition
Who is this guidance for?
This guidance is primarily designed for regulators who are considering applying for recognition. It also provides useful background information for everybody who wants to understand how the application process for recognition works.
These guidance notes are designed to make the application process as simple and speedy as possible. We will apply the criteria in an objective way that is replicable, making sure our requirements are suitable for all types of regulator.
Who can apply for recognition?
Recognition is open to all independent regulatory bodies for the press that are “formed by or on behalf of ‘relevant publishers’ (as defined in Section 41 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013) for the purpose of conducting regulatory activities in relation to their publications” (Royal Charter, Schedule 4, Interpretation). In broad terms, to qualify as a relevant publisher, four tests must be met. They are:
Various types of publishers are exempt even if they meet the four tests. They are:
Reviewing our guidance for applicants
The application process is new to us and new to applicants. We have developed this guidance in the light of responses we received to our public consultation on our proposals for receiving and determining applications for recognition. We will update this guidance as the process evolves. We welcome your feedback at any point as this will help us improve both the process and our guidance. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Engagement with applicants
We want the application process to be straightforward and collaborative. The PRP exective team particularly welcomes early engagement with potential applicants in the interests of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the recognition process. We want to minimise the likelihood of misunderstandings and unnecessary delays that may arise during the application process itself.
We recommend that potential applicants undertake an initial evaluation of their capability and capacity to comply with the Charter criteria before applying. The Recognition matrix has been designed with this in mind and is discussed in the next section. The Charter requires compliance with each of the criteria, including their sub-sections (numbered 1 – 23 in Schedule 3 of the Charter).
The PRP executive team will not offer advice on the interpretation of the criteria. There may be more than one way to demonstrate compliance with them and we do not wish to restrict this. The Recognition Matrix includes examples of the types of information we might consider when assessing an application.
Throughout the application process the PRP executive team will be available for general advice – for example, on the completeness of a draft application and supporting evidence; or on the structure of an application – to try to minimise the iterations required. The executive team will not advise on how to comply with the criteria or help with the design and development of an applicant’s internal processes.
We want to encourage applicants to have free and frank discussions with the PRP’s executive team at an early stage, without prejudice to the outcome of the PRP Board’s decision on recognition, to identify, understand and seek to resolve any issues. For example, if an applicant is unsure about the level of detail to provide about individual Board members, we would be happy to discuss this. We can answer queries by telephone, by email or have face to face meetings, whichever the applicant prefers.
The PRP Board will not be involved in these conversations. Its role is to assess the final application and decide whether or not to grant recognition, once the PRP executive team has completed its assessment.
Once an application is made
Once we have received an application we will publish the applicant’s name and application on our website, we will also provide a web link to allow for downloading of copies of their application and any supporting documents. Genuinely confidential information in the application will be redacted. We will invite interested parties to submit information about the applicant, relevant to the criteria in Schedule 3 of the Royal Charter (see section on ‘Call for Information’).
We will provide regular updates on the progress of the application process on our website. We will publish brief statements on a designated area of the site to mark the following milestones:
Retention and disposal of information received
We will treat the information we receive from applicants and information from third parties as part of the decision-making process, which we will therefore maintain as a permanent record for audit purposes. This information will be stored securely in accordance with our data retention and disposal policy.
We will handle all data we receive around the application process in accordance with our data protection policy.
As we are not listed within the Schedule to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the provisions do not apply to the PRP. We have nevertheless taken the decision to operate as if the provisions apply, including considering and responding to information requests. Should we receive any requests relating to the application process we would always consult with the relevant parties concerned when considering our response.
The Charter makes clear that we exercise public functions so when processing and reviewing applications for recognition we will comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) as required by the Equality Act 2010, Chapter 1.
The process for submitting an application is summarised below.
To assist applicants in making an application we have developed a matrix that demonstrates the indicators and examples of evidence we will look for when determining if an application meets the criteria under Schedule 3 of the Charter.
The first column of the matrix, and its associated footnotes, quotes the criteria exactly as they are listed in the Charter. It is against those criteria (taking into account the ‘Leveson concepts’) that the application will be assessed. The second column provides applicants with indicators developed by the PRP following the process of consultation in 2015 to clarify the Charter’s criteria where additional information is required. The third column gives examples of the types of evidence an applicant could use to demonstrate compliance with the criteria.
The indicators have been developed to provide elaboration of the criteria where we consider it may be necessary. The examples of possible evidence illustrate the types of information that we could consider when assessing an application. In many cases we consider that applicants will already hold, or could develop, the sort of documents or drafts that could be submitted as evidence. This is a list of possible evidence an applicant could provide and applicants could choose other types of evidence to demonstrate compliance with the criteria if they wish.
The final column provides a checklist for applicants to cross reference where information on specific criteria can be found within their application. The column also provides applicants with the opportunity to highlight where they consider compliance with the criteria to be at odds with other regulatory obligations.
Application cover note
In order to administer an application effectively, we ask that all applicants complete a cover sheet detailing important organisational information and key contacts. The cover sheet should be included at the front of the application along with a completed copy of the recognition matrix (see below).
The cover sheet and matrix is included in our application pack.
We expect that regulators may decide to put their applications together in different ways. In order to ensure that the application can be processed efficiently, we ask that applicants use the final column of the matrix to indicate the location of the evidence in their application. Applicants might want to set out how the evidence they provide is relevant to demonstrating that the criteria are met. Applicants should also use this box to highlight where they consider that compliance with the criteria conflict with any other regulatory objectives placed on them.
The diagram below shows how the completed matrix could look:
Documents can be submitted in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Adobe PDF formats or a format compatible with these programs in an electronic form such that they could be made available to download from a website. Applicants should let us know if they would like to use other formats. The font should be simple and be at least font size 10. Evidence submitted should be clearly labelled and referenced against the matrix.
Any documents that are confidential or contain intellectual property should be clearly marked. We ask applicants to let us know the basis for marking these documents in this way, and to provide us with an explanation of the basis for confidentiality.
Applications can be submitted in the following ways:
Applicants should notify us if they wish to submit an application in an alternative way.
Amending or withdrawing an application
If there are any changes to an applicant’s circumstances during the application process, they will need to notify us at the earliest opportunity. If an applicant would like to withdraw their application before the PRP Board makes its decision they can do so by email to email@example.com.
Amendments are only possible up to the point when the team’s assessment is completed. Applicants will be notified when this has taken place.
On receipt of an application, the PRP executive team will undertake initial checks to verify whether or not all the documentation required to assess an application has been submitted by the applicant and will acknowledge receipt by email. If we consider that the application is incomplete we may return it to the applicant and allow them to resubmit with additional information. We will then publish the name and application of the applying press self-regulator on the PRP website and issue the call for information (see below).
Call for information
The applicant’s name and a link to the website from which the application can be downloaded will be published on the PRP website. Confidential information in the published application will be redacted. We will invite people to submit information about the applicant and the application relevant to the criteria in Schedule 3 of the Royal Charter, supported by evidence.
We will communicate the call for information through a press release; our website; through social media; and by email to people who are on our contact database.
The call for information is not inteded to be a general opportunity for third parties to assess or decide whether or not an applying regulator meets the criteria in the Charter. The call for information is an opportunity for third parties to share relevant information with us to inform our assessment. We will consider facts and evidence, not opinions or hearsay. The PRP Board will decide whether or not the applicant meets the criteria; this is not a role for third parties.
The call for information will be open for 20 working days. This is to allow sufficient time for third parties to review the application and provide information. Respondents to our call for information retain responsibility and liability for the information they provide.
After receiving information we will give the applicant 15 working days to provide their response to us on the points raised by third parties. A summary of the information received and of the responses from the applicant will be submitted by the PRP executive team to the PRP Board for their consideration when assessing whether or not the applicant meets the criteria.
We will acknowledge receipt of all information but we will not respond to specific points raised. A summary of information provided by third parties, the applicant’s response to that information, the PRP executive team’s assessment of the information and the response, and the PRP Board’s decision in relation to them will be outlined in the outcome report to be published on our website (see below).
Unfortunately, we are unable to accept information after the initial call for information time period has passed (20 working days from date of issue) other than in exceptional circumstances. Having said that, if recognition is granted, anyone can submit information about a recognised regulator’s compliance with the recognition criteria at any time. The information will be assessed by the PRP executive team and considered by the PRP Board during a cyclical review. An ad hoc review may be carried out if information submitted about a recognised regulator meets the threshold for such a review. We will consult further on our approach to such reviews in 2016.
As a matter of policy we will not publish information submitted to us or the name of the respondent. However, we will share this information with the applicant in line with our commitment to fairness and transparency. If a respondent does not wish to have their identity disclosed when their information is shared with the applicant they should let us know the reason why. We will assess and decide whether or not the information is relevant and whether or not it should be shared with the applicant anonymously for comments. The respondent will have the opportunity to amend/withdraw the information before it is shared.
We may accept information submitted by an anonymous respondent or by a respondent who does not wish their information to be shared with the applicant (for example, if the facts allow the applicant to identify the respondent) depending on: a) the relevance of the information; and b) whether or not we are able to validate the information. This type of information may inform our discussion with the applicant during the assessment process. The final assessment submitted to the PRP Board for their consideration will include reference to issues raised from anonymous information. The PRP Board will decide whether or not the information could impact on the applicant’s ability to meet the recognition criteria.
The PRP will store all the information that we receive securely and in accordance with our information governance and retention policies. Applicants should be aware that any information provided by an applicant or third parties is disclosable under our commitment to comply with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We will consider requests for non-disclosure (including anonymous information) on merit and, as necessary, in accordance with legal advice. Please refer to our policy on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 published on our website.
The assessment process has three stages. Each stage is explained below.
Stage 1: Documentary review and due diligence
The PRP executive team will assess the application and supporting evidence against each criterion in the Charter, taking into account the additional indicators we have described above where relevant. The team will review the documentation submitted by the applicant and carry out due diligence checks. After the documentary review, if necessary, the PRP executive team may request further clarification or evidence based on the information submitted by the applicant. If clarification or additional evidence are required the PRP executive team will send a set of questions or list of evidence to the applicant and give them reasonable time to respond. The response will be assessed by the PRP team who will then decide whether or not it has all the information necessary to move to the next stage of the process.
Stage 2: Validation and verification of information
The PRP executive team will meet with the regulator to verify information provided in the application and to validate evidence. The meeting will take place after the call for information has been closed so that relevant evidence submitted by third parties can also be verified as required.
After validating and verifying the information submitted, the PRP executive team will then finalise its assessment report with a recommendation to the PRP Board on whether or not the applying regulator could be granted recognition. The PRP executive team’s assessment will be sent to the applicant for comments before it is sent to the PRP Board for consideration. The applicant will be asked to comment on factual accuracy within 15 working days. The team will amend inaccurate factual information. If the applicant disagrees with the assessment, the PRP executive team will state that in the final report to be reviewed by the PRP Board and explain the nature of the disagreement.
Stage 3: PRP Board’s review and outcome
The PRP Board will meet in an open session to consider the application and the PRP executive team’s assessment report along with any comments on it from the applicant. The PRP Board alone will assess and decide whether or not the applicant meets the criteria in the Charter. An outcome report summarising the PRP Board’s decision will be published on our website.
The PRP executive team will attend the meeting to present a summary of the assessment carried out and answer any questions PRP Board members may have about the assessment. A representative of the applying regulator may be asked to attend the meeting in person or be available by phone or video conference in case the PRP Board has any questions that the PRP executive team cannot answer or would like to discuss any aspect of the application with the applicant.
The PRP Board will review each criterion and decide whether or not each one is met. All criteria numbered 1 to 23 in Schedule 3 of the Charter (29 criteria) must be met for a regulator to gain recognition. If Board members cannot agree on whether or not a criterion is met, and therefore, on whether or not to grant recognition, the PRP Board will follow its Rules of Procedure, paragraphs 30 to 32 in relation to votes.
In assessing the application against those criteria, the Charter also requires the PRP Board to consider the concepts of: effectiveness; fairness and objectivity of standards; independence and transparency of enforcement and compliance; credible powers and remedies; and reliable funding and effective accountability, as articulated in the Leveson Report (Part K, Chapter 7, Section 4 (“Voluntary independent self-regulation”). The PRP Board has already considered these concepts in developing the current indicators and types of evidence in the recognition matrix. The PRP Board will also have to consider these concepts when further interpretation of a criterion is required in order to decide whether or not an applicant meets it.
The PRP Board may also, but need not, take into account a number of other recommendations 34 to 36 inclusive, 38, 43, 44 to 45 (inclusive) and 47 in the Summary of Recommendations of the Leveson Report. However, provided the PRP Board is satisfied that a regulator meets the recognition criteria, it may not refuse recognition if a regulator does not comply with those recommendations. The Charter also requires that nothing in the recognition criteria should be interpreted in a manner that conflicts with any regulatory obligation imposed on a regulator. The PRP Board will have regard to this requirement.
There are two possible outcomes following the PRP Board’s consideration of the application:
(i) Recognition granted
The PRP Board will grant recognition if it decides that the regulator meets criteria 1 to 23 in Schedule 3 of the Charter (29 criteria) having considered the concepts of effectiveness, fairness and objectivity of standards, independence and transparency of enforcement and compliance, credible powers and remedies, reliable funding and effective accountability, as articulated in the Leveson Report, part K, Chapter 7, Section 4 (“Voluntary independent self-regulation”). It is not open to the PRP Board to refuse recognition by reference to any other considerations to a regulator that it considers meet those criteria.
(ii) Recognition not granted
If the PRP Board decides that the regulator does not meet one or more criteria in Schedule 3 of the Charter it will not grant recognition. The PRP Board will provide reasons for not granting recognition and the regulator will be entitled to resubmit its application.
Publication and review of outcome
The PRP executive team will draft an outcome report summarising the discussion of the PRP Board and its reasons for deciding to grant recognition or not to grant recognition. After the PRP Board’s consideration and approval, the report will be sent to the applicant. The report will be published on the PRP website. The PRP Board’s decision is final.
If recognition is granted the regulator will be invited to attend a meeting with the PRP executive team to discuss how its new recognition status should be communicated to the public. In the meeting the regulator will receive its certificate of recognition with the PRP seal. The name of the recognised regulator will be added to the recognised regulators webpage on the PRP website and announced by the PRP in the London Gazette. The regulator will be able to use the PRP Recognition mark in its communication materials should it wish to do so (on terms to be agreed with the PRP) so the public can identify them easily.
The minimum time for determining an application for recognition is likely to be around 50 working days from receipt. However, the actual time required to complete the whole assessment process will depend on the size and type of applicant, the volume and complexity of submissions received as part of the call for information, and the subsequent work needed to ensure the assessment process is robust.
Certificate of recognition
Similarly, if the regulator’s subscribers wish to use the PRP recognition mark, this would need to be co-badged (with PRP recognition mark and the regulator’s logo). The regulator would be responsible for monitoring its usage.
We will be consulting on our cyclical and ad hoc review processes in early 2016. If a regulator is recognised before this time, the Panel will put interim measures in place. If required, we will undertake an ad hoc review following similar steps to those outlined in the assessment process and, if necessary, withdraw recognition from the regulator.
We recognise regulators on the basis of the evidence (process, rules, procedures and operational readiness) that they demonstrate at the point of recognition. If a change to a regulator’s regulatory arrangements is proposed, we would ask regulators to inform us. This informal communication should assist the regulator to ensure it continues to meet its obligations under the criteria when making necessary changes.
As an applicant if you have any comments on the way the application process works please let us know. It is a new process and we are always looking for ways in which it can be improved.
If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your application was processed you can raise this with us.
If you have issues with the outcome of the recognition process either as an applicant or a member of the public, please raise your concerns with the PRP executive team in the first instance. We will take these concerns into account should an application be resubmitted and/or as information for future reviews.