Look I love Ian Hislop as much as the next man but I’m finding his petulant stance on press regulation tiresome.
Firstly there was his an unconvincing interview on Channel 4 news last week. Not only did he avoid engaging with the points made by a victim of press intrusion, he also neglected to produce any criticisms of the current proposals. Instead he opted to make a slippery slope argument – an inherently suspect form of reasoning – that the experience of other countries shows that regulation inevitably leads to political control of the press.
Now we have the latest of Private Eye’s famous front covers setting out the same fear.
This is rot. We don’t even need to look to other countries to find an example of media regulation that does not turn its subjects into sycophantic kittens. If Hislop wants to find a regulated media that retains its independence from political control, he just needs to turn on the TV or radio. The BBC is incorporated by Royal Charter as the government’s proposed new regulator would be and commercial stations are regulated by Ofcom, the body that Leveson proposed giving responsibility for approving any new regulator. Yet that does not mean they act in the way Hislop imagines regulated papers will.
Let’s see some examples.
Here’s an ITV program being nasty about the government:
Here’s a BBC journalist doing in the leader of the opposition:
Here’s Mark Kermode on BBC Radio 5 live panning both Hugh Grant’s most recent film and the man himself
And as for MPs being good value for money, here’s Hislop himself arguing the exact opposite on Have I Got News For You that is of course shown on the BBC:
The problem with Britain’s media is not placid broadcasters, it’s rabid and irresponsible papers. The press’ credibility is not helped by Hislop pretending that independent regulation will turn Private Eye into OK!