Why Are Parts of "The Daily Show" Banned in the UK?

Things I did not know until this morning:

1. In England, it is illegal to use footage of Parliament for satirical purposes.

2. There is an international edition of The Daily Show, which airs weekly in England and features a bunch of random segments from the previous weeks' shows.

3. Last week's international edition of The Daily Show was unavailable to British viewers because it violated those anti-satire laws by featuring a segment in which Jon Stewart mocked Parliament.

Weird, right? Mediaite brings us the story:

[T]his week’s international edition was mysteriously unavailable for viewers, so TV writer Graham Linehan tweeted Channel 4 and asked why the episode was not being aired in its normal timeslot. This is what Channel 4 tweeted back:

Yes, you read that right. In England, it is illegal to use footage from Parliament for satirical purposes. Just think about that for a second. Could you imagine if we had a law on the books saying it was illegal for late night shows to use CSPAN footage to mock politicians? That would be a fundamentally undemocratic principle.

Indeed, as an American who (theoretically) enjoys freedom of speech and the press, that seems bizarre. And it's a shame too, because the British Parliament can be hilarious.

Mediaite's story is full of many other interesting facts about satire bans in the UK and elsewhere. You should read the whole thing here.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at July 30, 2011, 5:45am

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