Performance anxiety

The Culture Select Committee's report into libel, privacy and press standards - out today - is a very meaty document, even if its conclusions are disappointingly cautious. On everything from prior notification to libel costs to whether or not Mr Justice Eady is a threat to the public interest they manage to come down somewhere in the middle. Still, it's a very thorough piece of work which seems to have succeeded in annoying Rupert Murdoch. And there are some tasty morsels along the way. Such as this:

12. Privacy laws tend to reflect the media cultures in which they operate, and, as we were reminded during our visit to Spain, these can be very different from the UK's. Staff at La Vanguardia told us that their newspaper would publish a story about a footballer having an extra-marital affair, but not a story about a politician having an affair. They explained that this was because the footballer's professional performance might be affected while the politician's would not, and also because readers would not be interested in a politician's affairs. The same news values do not apply in Britain.

How does that work? Perhaps years observing the under-performance of the English football team on the pitch - and their over-performance off it - has led these Hispanic journos to draw a somewhat dubious conclusion. But if anything adversely affects the performance of sexually vagrant footballers (or politicians) it's more likely to be the attendant publicity than the sex itself. Or am I missing something important about football?


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