New Comres poll finds most favour statutory press regulator

The latest in  a flurry of opinion polls on the subject of press regulation has suggested most Britions favour the creation of a newspaper regulator “with rules agreed and enforced by the courts”.

In recent weeks different polls have asked subtly different questions making them impossible to compare and giving wildly different results.

The latest Comres survey for Radio 5 Live asked 1,002 British adults: "Who would you most like to see regulate newspapers in Britain?"

Some 47 per cent said: “A regulatory body with rules agreed and enforced by the courts”, and 12 per cent said “a regulatory body with rule agreed and enforced by newspaper owners”.

Asked "to what extent, if at all, do you trust British newspapers to tell the truth?", some 2 per cent said “a great deal”, 31 per cent said “a fair amount”, 42 per cent said “not very much” and 24 per cent said “not at all”.

A YouGov poll funded by the Media Standards Trust published yesterday asked 3,620 adults: “Which of the following statements comes closer to your view on how you think newspapers in Britain should be regulated?” Some 79 per cent chose “an independent body, established by law” and 9 per cent said “a new self-regulator”.

Critics of that YouGov poll believe it was loaded because the statute-backed regulator was described as “independent” whereas the self-regulation option was not. Proponents of self-regulation, such as Professor Tim Luckhurst, argue that any statute-backed model would not be independent because it would need involvement from the state.

Earlier this month press owners commissioned their own poll, via the Free Speech Network, which asked a different question.

It said: “Recently there has been much criticism of press practises such as phone-hacking, making payments to public officials, hacking of computers and contempt of court. These practices are all illegal, and some people believe that the solution to press misbehaviour is make sure the existing law is fully enforced and that journalist that commit such offences are prosecuted for doing so. Other people believe that the law needs to bee changed to add further regulations to the behaviour of journalists. What should the government focus on top to stop bad practices and misbehaviour by the media?"

It found that 24 per cent favoured “new laws and regulations”, while 71 per cent said “ensure that the existing laws are actually enforced in full to bring perpatratots to account”.

That survey involved 1,000 adults and was carried out by Survation.

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