The Financial Times has stepped outside of the ongoing press regulation battle between the UK government and Ipso and announced plans to set up its own internal system to deal with future problems.
The announcement was made by editor Lionel Barber on Thursday and cited the FT’s international presence as a factor in the decision.
Barber said: “After careful consideration, the FT has decided to put in place a system which is accountable, credible, robust and highly adaptable to meet the pace of change in our industry.
“We believe this approach is consistent with our record of journalistic excellence and integrity, and it builds on our already strong system of governance designed to maintain the highest possible ethical standards.
“Our approach reflects the FT’s standing as an increasingly digital news operation with a global footprint. More than three-quarters of our readers are now outside the UK. Our main competitors are global news organisations, each of which applies its own system of independent regulation. There is no industry standard.”
The Independent Press Standards Organisation was quickly set up as a response to the government’s Royal Charter proposal on press regulation. The organisation, with members including Northern & Shell, Telegraph Media Group, News UK, Trinity Mirror and Newsquest, is staunchly opposed to the government’s plans for regulation in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.
Commenting on the latest development, Scottish Newspaper Society director and Ipso supporter John McLellan told The Drum: “It’s disappointing but not entirely unexpected. The rest of the industry will await with interest to see how the FT’s new in-house system deals with its first significant complaint.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman from Hacked Off – which is backing the government’s Royal Charter plan and fiercely opposes Ipso – said: “The public already know that Ipso is nothing more than a shabby facsimile of the discredited PCC.
“The FT’s announcement today that it won’t join demonstrates that Ipso will have even less credibility than the failed self-regulator it replaces.”
While it’s unknown exactly how the FT’s system will work, Barber said a new post for an editorial complaints commissioner will be created and a candidate appointed by a three-person committee “independent of the editor”.
“Every newspaper and news group must make their own choice regarding regulation,” he added. “At this point, we have decided to plot our own course. We are committed to best practice and determined to uphold the high standards that have served the FT and our readers so well over the past 126 years.”