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  5. Public rejects wealthy donor funding model for Press regulation


Just four per cent of people think a press regulator should be funded by donations from wealthy individuals and trusts, the Impress model, compared with 49 per cent who believe it should be funded by the newspaper industry itself, as is the Independent Press Standards Organisation, a new YouGov poll has found.

In his report into the culture, ethics and practices of the press published in November 2012, Lord Justice Leveson said that a regulator for the press should be funded by its members, and IPSO – which is funded entirely by member publishers – was subsequently established to regulate the press.

A new YouGov online poll of 1632 adults published today has found that the public agree that a press regulator should be funded by the industry (49 per cent) while just four per cent believe that a regulator should be funded by a wealthy individual or trust. Impress, the state-recognised regulator for the press to which not a single significant publisher has signed up, is funded by Max Mosley.

Lynne Anderson, News Media Association deputy chief executive, said: “This survey demonstrates conclusively that a regulatory regime led by Impress – which is completely reliant upon funding from one wealthy individual, Max Mosley – cannot command the confidence of the public.

“IPSO is funded in its entirety by its member national, regional and local newspaper publishers which is the funding model the public want and expect from an industry which is committed to robust self-regulation.”

The poll also found that the public overwhelmingly believe the UK Government should be focussing its attention and resources on areas other than press regulation which came at the very bottom of a list of 16 issues the Government should focus on over the next few years.

Ms Anderson added: “It is abundantly clear from the poll that there is absolutely no public appetite for further activity from the Government in this area – such as the reopening of the Leveson Inquiry – when there are other much more pressing priorities at hand.”

The poll found that just one per cent of respondents thought press regulation should be among the top four priorities, after airport expansion (two per cent). Top four priorities were Brexit (53 per cent), health (48 per cent), immigration and asylum (45 per cent) and the economy (44 per cent).

Commissioned by the NMA, the poll also found that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of people believe that news on social media platforms like Facebook – which are currently unregulated – should be subject at least to the same level of regulation as newspapers or even tighter regulation.

Britain’s press is subject to numerous criminal and civil laws covering news gathering and reporting. The vast majority of newspapers and magazines have also signed up voluntarily to a system of tough, independent self-regulation under IPSO.

Press regulation in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government has no current plans for a further tightening of controls on the Scottish Press. All major newspaper publishers in Scotland are IPSO members.

Scottish Newspaper Society director John McLellan said: “Every major title in Scotland is regulated by IPSO, and proper Scottish representation is guaranteed  on all its boards. Impress is simply irrelevant here and from that point alone cannot be a credible regulator for the UK Press as a whole.”