Magazine article The Spectator

The Unfree Press

Magazine article The Spectator

The Unfree Press

Article excerpt

The Leveson inquiry is not the only place tion this week, Hu Zhanfan, head of China State TV, warned assembled hacks: 'Journalists who think they are independent rather than propaganda workers are making a fundamental mistake about identity.' They are, he said, 'mouthpieces of the state'.

Press freedom in Britain is at risk not from Lord Leveson, who has handled his inquiry so far with fair-mindedness and an understanding of the perils of regulation, but from public opinion. It seems inevitable that the inquiry will conclude with demands for the government to create an 'independent' statutory regulator to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

But, as is clear from the existing tangle of quangos, there is no such thing as a genuinely independent statutory regulator. Somebody, after all, has to appoint the regulator. We all know what happened when Gordon Brown created his 'independent' Bank of England. …

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