Attention to the Newspaper Industry - important consultation affecting your digital platforms:

14 August 2017

Author: Olivia O'Kane
Practice Area: Media and Defamation

O_okane

The press regulator IPSO is currently conducting a consultation inviting submissions on a proposed amendment to IPSO’s regulations. The closing date for submissions is midday on Monday 2 October 2017.

The proposed amendment would exclude some content published by global digital publishers from IPSO regulation. IPSO will put in place safeguards to ensure that the standards of UK journalism can be upheld on online platforms showcasing globally produced content.

Commenting on the digital review and the consultation, IPSO’s Chief Executive, Matt Tee said: “IPSO has considered in detail a number of approaches to defining a new jurisdictional test. We considered that the location of the news event has the potential to form the basis of a test that is both understandable to the public and practicable for journalists. Our proposal has been developed specifically to deal with the coverage of UK nationals, residents and institutions and the online publication of UK print material. This now needs to be debated in a wider forum and we look forward to receiving comments from the public and other interested parties.”

https://www.ipso.co.uk/news-press-releases/press-releases/ipso-global-digital-content-consultation/

The proposed amendment would exclude some content published by global digital publishers from IPSO regulation. IPSO will put in place safeguards to ensure that the standards of UK journalism can be upheld on online platforms showcasing globally produced content.

Commenting on the digital review and the consultation, IPSO’s Chief Executive, Matt Tee said:

“IPSO has considered in detail a number of approaches to defining a new jurisdictional test. We considered that the location of the news event has the potential to form the basis of a test that is both understandable to the public and practicable for journalists. Our proposal has been developed specifically to deal with the coverage of UK nationals, residents and institutions and the online publication of UK print material. This now needs to be debated in a wider forum and we look forward to receiving comments from the public and other interested parties.”

IPSO launched a Digital Review on 18th July 2016 in an attempt to define the regulations that should be applicable to global publishers – which is relevant to all media organizations operating in the UK with an internet service. All digital content published online, unless geo- blocked, is viewable and thus published across the World. In order to ensure that the content of relevance to UK citizens is properly regulated, IPSO are proposing a new test to determine if the content is within its remit. For instance in England the English courts determine if it has jurisdiction to hear a case if publication occurred in the UK and the claimant is a UK citizen / or has a substantial reputation in the UK. OFCROM and On Demand Services consider if the companies are based in the UK or if the editorial responsibility is in the UK. The ASA and Online Content considers websites with a co.uk URL or those registered to a UK address as the place of origin in the UK. The BBFC largely relates to whether the age rate of any film shown in the UK is compliant.

The review was conducted in light of initial consultations and an assessment of comparable jurisdictional tests including those applied by the UK Courts, OFCOM and On Demand Services, Advertising Standards Agency and Online Content and BBFC and Online Content.

The result of the review by IPSO was the proposal of a new jurisdictional test which would determine whether the internet content for example is governed by IPSO. This test would fairly balance the need to provide a workable solution for publishers whilst protecting individuals and being an effective regulator for customers.

IPSO identified three possible approaches as the basis for this new jurisdictional test:

1.Appropriateness (to prevent forum shopping)

The first test focused on assessing whether IPSO would be an appropriate forum for the complaint. In determining this, attention would be given to the content of the material complained about, the extent of publication in the UK and the location/nationality of the complainant.

2.Editorial Responsibility

The purpose of the second test would be to limit IPSO’s remit to content for which editorial control was taken in the UK, meaning that the UK Editors’ Code of Practice would always need to be applied for UK-based editors. But a problem might arise if content about UK and concerning a UK citizen but editor is in Dublin for example.

3.Location of the News Event

The final, and preferred, test of the IPSO would be to limit its jurisdiction to reportage of events that occurred within the UK. This would provide both readers and journalists with the freedom to assess whether IPSO regulation applied from the content of material published. The problem with this is that UK citizens are not protected while abroad and would diminish the ability to uphold UK standards of journalism abroad.

It was considered that of all three approaches the Location of the News Event test would be more readily understandable to the public and more workable for the press. IPSO put forward the following proposal:

“IPSO’s jurisdiction regarding material published by a global digital publisher* is limited to content covering events in the UK, save where the content can be viewed in the UK and:

1. The content covers events outside the UK and:

a. Principally concerns a UK national or resident who is directly and personally affected by the alleged breach of the Code; or

b. In respect of the accuracy of the content, where the coverage concerns UK nationals, residents or institutions.

Or

2. The content is based on material published in a UK print edition of a title within the global digital publisher’s group.

*Global Digital Publisher – an electronic service which employs journalists and operates newsrooms both inside and outside the UK, which operates distinct editorial and compliance structures to deal with jurisdictions outside the UK.”

The Proposal initially limits the IPSO’s jurisdiction to content covering events in the UK (i.e. the Location of the News Event approach), however it also allows for such jurisdiction to be extended to the coverage of events outside of the UK provided that the following circumstances are met:

Content can be viewed in the UK

The content principally concerns a UK national or resident who is directly and personally affected by the alleged breach of the IPSO Code;

The coverage of the content must concern UK nationals, residents or institutions in respect of complaints regarding accuracy of the content; and

The content is based on material published in a UK print edition of a title within the global digital publisher’s group;

  • Global digital publisher as opposed to online versions of print titles. This definition seeks to distinguish between websites which are online versions of print titles and websites which are publications in their own right, running distinct business structures designed to produce content for a global audience.

IPSO is inviting comments on the Proposal and is asking to receive submission on the following questions:

  • Does the test provide an appropriate basis for effective regulation of content published by global digital publishers in the UK?
  • Is the proposal workable for publishers and understandable for members of the public
  • Do the amendments achieve the stated aims set out in paragraphs 27-35?
  • Is the proposed definition of a global digital publisher appropriate?

  • Does the proposal sufficiently protect UK individuals?
  • Does the proposal provide an adequate solution to the difficulties some publishers appear to be having regarding an overlap of regulatory jurisdictions?
  • Does the proposal as a whole reflect the differences between ‘UK’ and ‘global digital’ publishers and the manner in which they can be effectively regulated?

  • Does the primary test (the location of the news event) provide a clear and understandable basis upon which journalists and members of the public can assess whether the Editors’ Code of Practice applies?
  • Do the amendments to the primary test render it confusing or unworkable?
  • If not, how should the wording be changed to achieve those results?
  • Should other exceptions to the primary test apply? If so, what content or complaints should fall within IPSO’s remit?

  • Does the definition adequately distinguish between print edition websites and unique online publications to which the proposals should apply?

IPSO proposes to publish the received submissions.

Submissions should be sent to digitalreview@ipso.co.uk by Monday 2 October 2017

If you would like any advice or assistance on this consultation please contact the Head of the Media Department Olivia O’Kane

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