Media update: Ipso moves forward in 'opaque mess' of press regulation; ITV takeover rumours as Viacom prepares to seal Channel 5 deal; Scottish media reports indyref successes

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

September 2, 2014 | 4 min read

This week's media round-up focuses on press regulation developments after Ipso revealed a launch date of 8 September; rumours circulating around ITV's possible takeover by Liberty Global; and the spotlight shifting to the Scottish media ahead of the Scottish independence referendum as figures show a boost for broadcaster STV and print title the Sunday Herald.

Press regulation

Following a relatively calm period in the press regulation debate, last week saw news of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) launch date – 8 September – trickle out via a statement on the newspaper society website.

Ipso will replace the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) when it launches and its staunch opposition of the government’s Royal Charter proposal on press regulation is well documented. All of the major news publishers are signing up to Ipso – apart from the Guardian and Independent titles, which are still deciding, and the Financial Times, which will go it alone – and the stand-off with the government continues.

To add to the confusion for the public, a rival regulator is also setting itself up –Impress – which has had financial backing from author JK Rowling. On the day the Ipso launch date was revealed, Impress announced the members of its appointments panel – the people who will in turn choose the regulator’s board members.

Meanwhile, campaign group Hacked Off, which is not connected to Impress, insists its wider aim of press reform has not been met and its efforts will continue ahead of the 2015 general election.

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Writing in The Drum, Chris Boffey, former news editor of the Observer and Sunday Telegraph, believes the messy state of affairs has left a lot to be desired and reflected badly both on the media and government. The general public, Boffey says, are the real losers.

This week also saw journalism trade title the Press Gazette announce its decision to sign up to Ipso, while editor Dominic Ponsford admitted the creation of Ipso has been “secretive”. He wrote in his editor’s blog that he was confident Ipso would meet the standard required.

“We can continue to argue about the finer points of press regulations for years to come, and no doubt we will,” he wrote. “But in practical terms I have no doubt that Ipso will provide an effective and fair way of settling complaints that can’t be resolved in-house.”

ITV takeover rumours

Rumours of an ITV takeover by Virgin Media owner Liberty Global continued this week after reports that billionaire John Malone is canvassing investors ahead of speaking to the ITV board. The speculation follows Liberty’s purchase of BSkyB’s 6.4 per cent stake in ITV for £481m in July.

The return of the X Factor to ITV screens at the weekend pulled in a peak audience of 10.6 million viewers for the broadcaster.

In other takeover news, The Drum understands Viacom’s purchase of Channel 5 is expected to be completed later this month, having been delayed. The deal for Richard Desmond’s broadcast turnaround project will net him £450m.

Independence and the Scottish media

It’s just over two weeks until the Scottish independence referendum, and the Scottish media will soon have the international spotlight upon it. So far, it seems the public debate has boosted elements in both the broadcast and print sectors.

STV chief executive Rob Woodward told The Drum that the debate had given the Scottish media a “renewed sense of purpose” after the broadcaster recorded a seven per cent year-on-year rise in revenue in its H1 figures.

In print news, the Sunday Herald newspaper reversed the consistent downward print decline to see a one per cent growth in print sales in H1 2014, according to ABC figures. The turnaround followed the paper dramatically declaring support for a Yes vote in the independence referendum in May, and traffic figures for HeraldScotland (which publishes copy from both the Sunday Herald and daily sister title the Herald from behind a metered paywall) increased by 28.3 per cent year on year.


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