The second instalment of MediaGuido’s Impress File reveals attempts by the state-endorsed press regulator to financially ruin three newspapers. Several senior figures at Impress support the so-called Stop Funding Hate (SFH) campaign to boycott advertising in the popular press. SFH’s stated aim is to “take on the divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support”. It wants to prevent newspapers from “making money by publishing these headlines”. SFH is bullying advertisers to censor or bankrupt the three centre-right newspapers read by millions of Britons.
Impress CEO Jonathan Heawood is a vocal supporter and campaigner on behalf of SFH. He has promoted social media posts from SFH aggressively targeting Boots and HSBC into removing ads from MailOnline. He has a pinned tweet in support of an advertising boycott of the Mail. He has shared an SFH article summing up their approach to free speech: “Voltaire… never said I will defend to the death your right to get advertising revenue”.
Impress board member and chair of its code committee Marie Messenger Davies also regularly expresses support for the SFH campaign. Davies has repeatedly promoted posts calling for an advertising boycott of the Mail in particular. Emma Jones, a member of the Impress board and code committee, also regularly promotes SFH. Impress actively campaigns to bankrupt three newspapers – how can it possibly be a fair and balanced regulator of the press?
The Daily Mail and MailOnline have a readership of 23 million a month, The Sun is the most-read newspaper in Britain. Latest figures show the Express is growing online by 16% year-on-year. Millions of free-thinking readers choose to read these publications every day, SFH is an cabal of so-called ‘liberals’ trying to shut down the right-of-centre popular press. This raises serious questions for the government: how can Impress possibly be a fair and even-handed regulator when key figures within Impress are campaigning to ruin several newspapers? Regulators would not be allowed to behave in this way in any other industry…