Six months on from the press regulator IPSO starting work, Hacked Off has launched “IPSO WATCH” to act as a voice for newspaper consumers who have complained about press coverage and got nowhere.
Although IPSO presents itself as a as a new body, it is a continuation of the discredited PCC. As the Media Standards Trust has pointed out [pdf], it does not meet 24 of the 38 criteria set out by Lord Justice Leveson for an effective independent press self-regulator.
In particular IPSO
- Does not act as a regulator, in practice it is still only a complaints body like the old discredited Press Complaints Commission.
- Is not independent of politicians.
- Is dominated by the editors of the papers it is supposed to regulate.
- The same editors are running the same committees they ran on the PCC.
- There are still far too many breaches of the Editors’ Code which are completely unchecked by IPSO.
- Can only launch investigations with agreement of papers.
In recent months IPSO has failed to properly investigate the Sunday Mirror’s sting on Brooks Newmark MP, despite announcing that it would. It also boasted that it would investigate the Daily Telegraph/HSBC scandal, before adding the caveat that it would only do it “if all the parties agree”; now it has had to admit that it doesn’t have the power to carry out any such investigation. Its record amounts to bold statements followed by backtracking and weakness.
IPSO WATCH has been set up to provide a voice for all those that IPSO is failing. Designed as an online aid, IPSO WATCH will encourage anyone who has made a complaint to IPSO or a newspaper, and been given the brush-off, to report their treatment at the hands of the industry and its self-regulator.
In addition, IPSO WATCH will monitor the methods used to deter people from seeing through a complaint. It will also monitor complaints made directly to newspapers (as IPSO requires complainants to do), which might otherwise disappear into the papers’ user-unfriendly complaint-handling systems.
Joan Smith, Executive Director of Hacked Off, said:
“The public deserves a press regulator which enforces high editorial standards; which is willing to have its effectiveness assessed by a panel independent of the industry; and which is effective for the public. IPSO fails to meet the basic criteria for a regulator, or to offer the redress rightly demanded by the public after the phone hacking scandal.
“IPSO WATCH will offer a new resource to victims of the press who have been let down by IPSO and its weak complaints process. More than two years after the Leveson report, IPSO WATCH will play a role not just in monitoring IPSO but continuing press abuse and the failure of most of the industry to deal with it.”