I don’t think there’s anything this government won’t stoop to if they think they can get away with it.
Via the Daily Mail:
From Iran to Zimbabwe and New York to Sydney, the world’s media has reacted with astonishment to the assault on a free Press in Britain.
As plans to shackle newspapers with state regulation were unveiled, the French declared it a ‘sad day’, the Canadians said it was ‘a mess’ and the Australians branded it ‘scary’.
Even the Russians are aghast, with Britain’s humiliation complete as newspapers in Moscow and authoritarian regimes such as Ukraine accused the UK of censorship.
Meanwhile, the Germans mocked us as the country that invented Press freedom only to throw it away.
The most significant criticism of the new Press regulator — cooked up in a late-night deal by politicians and anti-Press campaigners — came from the U.S., where freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution.
The globally-respected New York Times delivered a damning verdict demolishing David Cameron’s claims that the new system would be free of Government interference.
It said the Prime Minister’s claims were ‘without substance’ and condemned the new plans as having a chilling effect on free speech.
In Britain, the backlash was growing as the New Statesman followed The Spectator and Private Eye magazines by defying the new proposals. The New Statesman vowed it would not defer to a system ‘designed to suit politicians’.
The deal to establish a Royal Charter for new rules governing Press freedom were agreed by the three party leaders and the Hacked Off campaign group at 2am on Monday.
In a powerful editorial, the New York Times warned the ‘unwieldy regulations’ would ‘chill free speech and threaten the survival of small publishers and internet sites’.
It wrote: ‘Prime Minister David Cameron has argued that the plan will keep the Press free because it will be enacted through a Royal Charter, which is technically not a law because it is formally issued by the Queen, not Parliament. But that is a distinction largely without substance.Reaction: In a powerful editorial, the New York Times warned the ‘unwieldy regulations’ would ‘chill free speech and threaten the survival of small publishers and internet sites’
‘In reality the proposal would effectively create a system of government regulation of Britain’s vibrant free Press, something that has not happened since 1695, when licensing of newspapers was abolished.
‘The kind of Press regulations proposed by British politicians would do more harm than good because an unfettered Press is essential to democracy. It is worth keeping in mind that journalists at newspapers like The Guardian and The Times, not the police, first brought to light the scope and extent of hacking by British tabloids.
‘It would be perverse if regulations enacted in response to this scandal ended up stifling the kind of hard-hitting investigative journalism that brought it to light in the first place.’
It said misdeeds such as phone hacking were ‘far better handled as violations of existing British laws, which already provide ways to prosecute and sue reporters for defamation or hacking.’
Elsewhere, Matt Storin, a former editor of the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun-Times and a managing editor of the New York Daily News, wrote in his blog: ‘I believe I can speak for virtually all American journalists in saying the new British Press regulations are not only appalling but also, in an American context, unimaginable.’
RUSSIAThe Kremlin’s newspaper of record, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which is controlled by Vladimir Putin’s government, said these were ‘rainy days for the freedom of the Press’
The Kremlin’s newspaper of record, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which is controlled by Vladimir Putin’s government, published a picture of David Cameron reading a newspaper on a Tube train with the headline: ‘Censorship, Sir!’ and said these were ‘rainy days for the freedom of the Press’.
Another Moscow publication, Expert, under a report titled ‘Ministry of Truth’, warned in Orwellian terms that: ‘It is most likely that London is about to be stripped of one of the main attributes of democracy.’
The Kurs news agency said Britain was ‘introducing censorship on its media market’, while popular daily Moskovski Komsomolets quoted Churchill’s warning: ‘A free Press is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.’
Prominent Russian journalist Yulia Latynina warned Britain was sending an appalling example to dictatorial leaders around the world. She said: ‘As soon as this controlling body is formed, I have no doubt that Putin will say: “Everyone, follow Britain! Well done to them.”’
Referring to the prime suspect in the London poisoning of dissident Alexander Litvinenko, she added: ‘We will probably see Andrey Lugovoy claiming millions in compensation over his coverage in UK newspapers — he will probably be the first client of your new regulator.’
ZIMBABWEDictators such as Robert Mugabe will be encouraged by Britain’s proposed rules, a newspaper chief warned
Dictators such as Robert Mugabe will be encouraged by Britain’s proposed rules, a newspaper chief warned. Takura Zhangazha, of the Voluntary Media Council, said: ‘Statutory regulation of the Press is inimical to freedom of expression because we have had statutory regulation here and it has led to the newspapers being shut down, journalists being arrested and a culture of impunity for the state against the media.’
The Delo newspaper declared simply: ‘Great Britain is getting ready to launch censorship.’
The Gulf Daily News in Bahrain, where pro-democracy protesters were brutally suppressed during the Arab uprising, said there was no need for Britain to adopt such Press controls.
It pointed out: ‘Neither British politicians nor anyone else is going to solve [the problems] by creating some sort of bureaucratic watchdog that will regulate what journalists do. We already have in place the best regulatory force of any organisation on the planet. They are called the readers.’
SOUTH AFRICANic Dawes, editor-in-chief of South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, said: ‘The UK is not only a leading democracy, it is the birthplace of the free Press’
Nic Dawes, editor-in-chief of South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, said: ‘The UK is not only a leading democracy, it is the birthplace of the free Press. If it chooses a statutory regulatory regime, in word or in deed, it will set a dangerous and very high-profile example.
‘Those who seek to secure and extend their power, whether in public office or private, will see in Britain’s choice a very convenient precedent. Please do not give it to them.’
State-owned broadcaster IRIB’s HispanTV channel announced: ‘Freedom of the Press under threat in the United Kingdom,’ and said: ‘The British Government’s new measure to regulate the Press puts in danger freedom of expression and democracy in the European country.’
The Toronto Star branded the new regulations ‘a mess’, saying: ‘Phone-hacking victims, who, astonishingly, helped devise the watchdog — it’s as if crime victims had helped judges establish sentencing guidelines — denied journalists would be unfairly constrained. Tabloid journalism was a mess, largely thanks to Rupert Murdoch. But so is this regulatory solution.’
National newspaper The Australian wrote: ‘In Britain, as a result of a deal stitched up behind closed doors, we now have a scary system of state oversight of journalism. A Royal Charter will create a Press regulator with the power to maul unruly hacks and editors.’
The respected Die Welt newspaper said it was a ‘black day’ for the British Press.
The Frankfurter Rundschau, mocked Britain in an article headlined: ‘Churchill’s Legacy.’ It said: ‘Great Britain was the first country to introduce freedom of the Press. This hard-fought-for gain is now to be risked through new, legally anchored Press controls.
‘It is a Press law, though it may not be called one.’
Le Monde — the most famous paper in France — suggested the regulator will have ‘little respect for basic liberties’.
Le Figaro said David Cameron was guilty of a ‘very risky gamble’, while the newspaper l’Express said it was ‘a sad event in the history of freedom of the Press in the UK’.
El Pais described the new Press regulations as a ‘dangerous experiment’ with ‘unforeseeable consequences’.
It, too, highlighted the irony of Britain dispensing with a freedom it created, saying: ‘Putting a stop to a certain kind of Press would not be bad, but the worst thing would be if this resulted in the erosion of Press liberty achieved 300 years ago in one of the oldest democracies in the world.’