An opinion poll commissioned by the think tank IPPR suggests that more than 60% of the public now favour statutory regulation of the press. A total of 94% of those favouring regulation (77% of the sample) thought the regulation should be “fairly strict” or “very strict”.
However, only 38% were confident that the Leveson Inquiry would address the public’s concerns about the power and responsibility of the media. In contrast, 47% were not confident that it would.
Nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) supported limits on the overall proportion of the media that a single person or company could own. In addition, 62% wanted the number of newspapers a single owner can own to be two or less.
It will be interesting to see how much coverage this survey receives in the press tomorrow. Its results run directly counter to the “pro self-regulation” position taken by most newspapers in their own columns.
[Update, 25 May 2012] As we suspected this survey has received no substantive coverage in the national press. There is a small item in the “Guardian” and a post on Roy Greenslade’s blog. We cannot find any other national newspaper coverage. The Press Gazette has the story (under the interesting headline “Opinion poll finds public doubt Leveson will deliver“) and Journalism.co.uk has a piece. This lack of coverage of news adverse to press interests on this vital issue will, doubtless, be of interest to Lord Justice Leveson.
The detailed results of the survey are available on a spread sheet on the IPPR website and make interesting reading – the answers being broken down by voting intention, age, social grade and region.
The survey showed that 57% supported the existence of a publically funded broadcasting survey (with slightly more Conservative than Labour voters being in favour)
On the question of media regulation, the following question was asked:
“The press is currently self-regulated by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which is set up and run by newspapers themselves on a voluntary basis. Some people think that the press should instead be regulated by a legally established body set up by parliament, with legal powers to regulate newspapers. Other people do not believe the press should be regulated at all.
How about you, what type of regulation, if any, would you prefer to see?”
Of the respondents 62% favoured a “legally established body”, 19% “self regulation”, 3% no regulation at all, with 17% “don’t know”. The support for a legally established body was slightly higher among Labour and Lib Dem voters than among Conservatives.
Nick Pearce, Director of IPPR, said:
“Once the Leveson Inquiry has completed its work and made its recommendations, politicians will have to make some difficult decisions on the shape and reach of media policy. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the hacking scandal and other revelations, this polling shows that the public mood has hardened significantly towards tighter regulation of media standards and more controls on media ownership. Understanding this public appetite for change, while ensuring that the UK has a free, vibrant and economically viable media, will be the challenge of the months ahead.”
The YouGov sample involved 1,705 adults. They were polled online between 20-21 May.