YouGov poll: 79 per cent want 'independent press regulator, established by law'

The latest public opinion poll has found that 79 per cent of those questioned “favour an independent press regulator, established by law”.

The poll is the latest in a series of surveys offering contradicting views about the future of press regulation.

A Survation poll earlier this month commissioned by the Free Speech Network which asked a different question, found that only 24 per cent of respondents wanted “new laws and regulations” to tackle illegal behaviour like hacking and paying police officers.

This latest YouGov survey was commissioned by the Media Standards Trust and involved a sample of 3,620 adults (versus 1,000 for the Survation poll).

The poll asked: “Which of the following statements comes closer to your view on how you think newspapers in Britain should be regulated?”

Some 79 per cent said: “Independent body, established by law”, 9 per cent ticked the option of of “new self-regulator” and 9 per cent said “neither”.

Respondents were also asked:

“Imagine a new system is set up where the press continue to regulate themselves. What risk, if any, do you think there is that there will be of a repeat of unethical and illegal practices (such as phone-hacking and intrusions into people’s private lives?”

Some 86 per cent said they believed there would be a total or large risk of this happening.

Asked: “Do you think national newspapers should be allowed to opt out of any new regulatory system, or should all national newspaper be obliged to join by law?” - 82 per cent appeared to favour effective state licensing of newspapers saying that “newspapers should be obliged to join by law”.

Presented with the statement: “After the phone-hacking scandal it is no longer acceptable for newspaper owners and editors to control the system for dealing with complaints about press behaviour”,  82 per cent said they “totally agree”.

Presented with the statement: “We can trust newspaper editors to ensure that their journalists act in the public interest, 70 per cent said they “totally disagree”.

Asked who Lord Justice Leveson should listen to most when making his recommendations, 60 per cent said “the victims of unethical press behaviour”.

Martin Moore, Director of the Media Standards Trust, said “The public are absolutely clear about what they want – an independent system whose independence is guaranteed in law. If editors and owners are once again in charge of the new system almost 9 out of 10 people think there’s a risk of the same illegal and unethical practices happening again."

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