Poll suggests public support for Parliament-backed system of press regulation

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Media Standards Trust has suggested public support for a system of press regulation underpinned by a Parliament-backed Royal Charter.

A final wording of the Royal Charter on press regulation agreed by the three main political parties was published on Friday afternoon.

It sets out the terms under which a Recognition Body would license any future press regulator.

The poll took place on Wednesday and Thursday last week, before the final Royal Charter was published, and asked: "How important, if at all, do you think it is that a  new system of press self-regulation is  periodically reviewed by an independent  commission?" Some 71 per cent of respondents said very important or fairly important.

It also asked: "How much confidence would you have in a  system of press regulation established by the  major newspaper publishers, if that system  was not reviewed independently?" Some 73 per cent said they would not have confidence in it.

Publishers are currently weighing up their options on whether to comply with the detailed criteria set out in Parliament's press regulation scheme, or ignore it and continue settting up their own Independent Press Standards Organisation which complies with the rejected Pressbof Royal Charter.

They may opt to change the constitution of IPSO so that it complies with Parliament's Royal Charter.

If IPSO is not compliant with Parliament’s press regulation Royal Charter members of the new regulator will be at risk of exemplary damages in libel and privacy legal actions under a press regulation clause in the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

The poll also asked: “Imagine the new system of press regulation based on the cross-party Royal Charter DID go ahead, but some newspaper groups choose not to participate.

“Thinking about the newspaper you tend to read the most, which of these statements comes  closest to your view?”

A majority (56 per cent) agreed with the statement: “I want the newspaper I read to participate in this new system of regulation and will be disappointed if they don't.”

The Industry Steering Group, which has been looking at the issue of regulation on behalf of most newspaper and magazine publishers, said on Friday: “We welcome the fact that,after more than six months, politicians are finally seeing some of the flaws in their unacceptable and unilateral March 18 Charter. We will study their latest proposals closely.

“However this remains a Charter written by politicians, imposed by politicians and controlled by politicians. It has not been approved by any of the newspapers or magazines it seeks to regulate.”

Executive director of the Society of Editors Bob Satchwell said there were “key problems” with the cross-party charter which threatened press freedom.

He told the BBC: “You can't have a new system of regulation which is drawn up by and imposed by politicians.

"The things which are being proposed at the moment would be totally unconstitutional in the US and other countries.

"People in other countries, not just journalists, are looking at what's going on here at the moment with horror."

Full YouGov poll findings available via this link.

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