Why IPSO's Rusbridger/ Lebedev problem is a bigger issue than Richard Desmond's PCC boycott

Watchers of the Leveson Inquiry will recall that one of the major problems raised about voluntary press regulation was the 'Desmond problem'.

Critics of the Press Complaints Commission said the system was undermined by the fact that one of the UK’s major newspaper and magazine publishers, Richard Desmond, refused to take part.

At the beginning of September the PCC will be replaced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the new beefed up regulator created by publishers in response to the Leveson Report. The PCC’s Desmond problem has become IPSO’s Rusbridger/Lebedev problem.

Guardian News and Media (editor in chief Alan Rusbridger) has previously raised concerns that IPSO will be controlled by News UK, Telegraph Media Group and the Mail titles. So far they, along with the Lebedev group (the Independent titles, i and the Evening Standard), have declined to sign up to IPSO – whereas Desmond's Northern and Shell group is an IPSO member.

The FT has withdrawn from external press regulation saying that in future it will regulate itself, but every other national newspaper has signed up to IPSO.

Looking at the latest weekly readership figures from the NRS, the Guardian and Lebedev titles represent three out of the top ten UK newspaper brands in terms of combined print and online readership.

Together they have a weekly UK readership total of 15,156 versus 60,688 for the rest of the market, according to the NRS.

This compares with a readership total for Richard Desmond's Express titles in print and online of 3,147.

So the Rusbridger/Lebedev problem could be a bigger stumbling block for IPSO than the Desmond problem was for the PCC. 

Note: The Financial Times is not audited by the National Readership Survey. 

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