A YouGov poll of 1717 adults taken over 11th-12th April 2015 for the Hacked Off Campaign has found that the public do not believe that press behaviour has improved since the phone hacking scandal, with almost 3 in 5 wanting tougher regulation of the press, and the same proportion wanting further Parliamentary action to deliver it.
* Almost 6 in 10 (59%) of the public favour Parliamentary action to implement Leveson, or to bring in statutory regulation  if the press continue to refuse to set up and join a Leveson-compliant regulator. Only 19% of respondents thought the press’ own system should be “given more time to show it can work”.
* And almost 6 in 10 (59%) of the public also want tougher regulation of the press. This is seen across the full range of papers: a majority of their readers who expressed a view want tougher regulation.
* Most of the public (64%) believe that press behaviour has not improved since the phone hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry. Of these, 24% believe it has worsened. Only 25% thought it had improved.
* Press self-regulator IPSO, which is not Leveson compliant, does not appear to have the confidence of the public two years after its announcement. 60% of the public don’t have confidence in a self-regulator like IPSO, set up by the press industry with no oversight, compared to only 21% who do. Only 3% of the public have “a lot of” confidence in a regulator like IPSO.
* Public confidence in the press self-regulator has hardly changed since a similar poll in 2013, back in the days of the PCC.
* Only 14% of the public agree with the press when they say Leveson’s proposals should be rejected and that the press should stick with their own non-Leveson system. In fact 17%, felt that Leveson did not go far enough with his proposals. But the majority of those who expressed a view (and 47% overall) backed Leveson’s proposals specifically.
* More than a third of respondents felt that Ed Miliband has suffered negative press coverage because of his stance on press behaviour and regulation. Of these respondents, 70% thought the press were unreasonable for attacking him on these grounds. A majority of the public (51%) believe the press coverage of Ed Miliband is negative, whereas just 23% believe press coverage of David Cameron is negative.
* Of those who have not made up their minds on Ed Miliband one way or the other they were three times more likely to respect him because of his views on press regulation.
Hacked Off Associate Director Dr Evan Harris said:
“Despite two years of intense propaganda from the press industry, promoting IPSO as ‘the toughest regulator in the Western world’ and proclaiming its independence, it has made no impact on the public’s view that pure self-regulation without independent oversight simply does not offer enough protection for the public. And it’s particularly striking that Guardian readers and the independent have even less confidence in an IPSO-style system than the public on average.
“This poll shows that the views of national newspapers on press regulation are dramatically out of line with the views of their readerships. Even the readers of Murdoch papers want tougher regulation. Most of the public see no difference between IPSO and what went before.
“This poll is consistent with all previous polls and shows strong support for the Leveson proposals. Indeed, just as many people think the Leveson recommendations don’t go far enough as support press industry opposition. Even Conservative Party voters reject the press industry line. What is striking, is that readers of all newspapers including those who have spent three years attacking the Leveson Report, are overwhelmingly lined up against the editorial line. Among Guardian readers, only 5% agreed with the newspapers’ own position and five times as many wanted to see something stronger even than Leveson.”
The Chair of Hacked Off, Hugh Tomlinson QC, added:
“The most striking result of this poll is the very strong support for legislation in the event of continued press refusal to sign up to an independent and effective regulator as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson. Less than one in five supported the press industry’s ‘wait and see’ policy, with much more support for options which involve passing a law.
“The Labour, Lib Dem and Green Parties have made manifesto commitments to deliver Leveson, and this poll shows that the public are fully behind them using legislation to do so if that is necessary.”
Public has little confidence in the press’ own system of voluntary self-regulation
The public were asked:
“The Leveson Report recommended a new system of press regulation involving an independent external check of the adequacy of any press self-regulator and argued that this would aim to prevent a repetition of the press abuses that led to the Leveson Inquiry. Many newspaper companies oppose this proposal and argue that an external auditor for the press self-regulator amounted to government interference in the free press. Instead, they set up and joined the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which is not subject to checking by an independent external body.
How much confidence do you have in the system of press regulation established by the major newspaper publishers?”
Only 3% of the public said they have a lot of confidence and only 1 in 5 have any confidence at all, while three times (60%) as many have little or no confidence. Lack of confidence is strongest among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters (net confidence/non-confidence minus 52% and minus 43%), but is also strongly negative among Conservative voters (net minus 20%).
The vast majority of readers of all the newspapers signed up to IPSO have no confidence in a regulator set up to protect their interests without Leveson-style oversight – except for Sun readers, who remain not confident in IPSO on balance, but by a narrower margin (net confidence minus 4%).
In this survey, for the Daily Mail readers the net confidence/non-confidence is minus 24%; Mirror readers minus 50%, readers of the FT, Telegraph or The Times are minus 33%, and of Guardian or Independent readers, the net confidence is minus 71% in an arrangement like IPSO.
These figures are even worse for the press than when the public was asked a similar question in May 2013, despite respondents being informed on that occasion that Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations were supported by representatives of victims of press abuse, and on this occasion being given a reason why newspapers have gone down their own path (that external oversight amounts to “Government interference in the free press”). Despite this, the net confidence score has decreased from minus 36% to minus 39% (the total with little or no confidence has increased from 56% to 60%, while the total with some or much confidence has increased only from 20% to 21%).
Public wants tougher press regulation
The public were asked:
“The Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, which started in 2011 following revelations about phone-hacking and other abuses carried out by the press, made recommendations for reform of press regulation in November 2012.
Generally speaking, would you say you are…”
* In favour of much tougher press regulation than currently
* In favour of somewhat tougher press regulation than currently
* In favour of the current level of press regulation
* In favour of somewhat less tough press regulation than currently
* In favour of much less tough press regulation than currently
* Don’t know
59% of the population want tougher regulation than currently, compared to only 29% who support the current level or less.
This view was held by supporters of all parties, though is strongest among Liberal Democrat (64% tougher, 29% same as now or less tough) and Labour voters (67% tougher, 20% same as now or less tough). Among Conservatives it is 54% tougher to 40% (same as now or less).
In this survey, majorities of readers of all newspapers agreed with this. For example:
* Mail readers at 56% to 38%,
* Mirror readers by 64% to 26%,
* Readers of Telegraph, Times or Financial Times by 58% to 39% and
* Guardian or Independent readers by 77% to 17%.
The exception was Sun readers who were split 40% in favour of tougher regulation, 42% in favour of the current level or less tough.
When YouGov asked an identical question in July 2013, while the PCC was the press regulator, the results were that 69% of people wanted tougher regulation, with 18% in favour of the existing level. In the nearly two years since this, it seems that only one in ten of the population has been converted to the idea that the current system (represented by IPSO) is tough enough.
Is press behaviour improving? No, think the public.
The public were asked:
“Over the last two or three years, to what extent, if at all, do you think the behaviour of the national press has got better or worse?”
Only 25% of people thought it had got better while 64% feel it’s the same or worse . Conservative and Lib Dem voters are more likely to feel it’s got better than Labour voters do, but even for Conservatives and Lib Dem voters it’s only 1 in 3 who think it’s got better.
The readers of all newspapers in this survey share the scepticism about press behaviour
* Daily Mail: 28% better, 66% the same or worse;
* Mirror, 28% vs 61%,
* The Sun: 30% vs 59%,
* Readers of the FT, Times or Telegraph 28% vs 69%, and
* Readers of the Guardian or Independent 27% vs 70%.
Support for Leveson remains very strong among the public
The public were asked,
“The Leveson Report recommended a new system of press regulation involving an independent external check of the adequacy of any press self-regulator and argued that this would aim to prevent a repetition of the press abuses that led to the Leveson Inquiry.
Many newspaper companies oppose this proposal and argue that an external auditor for the press self-regulator amounted to government interference in the free press. Instead, they set up and joined the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which is not subject to checking by an independent external body.
Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?”
* The Leveson Report was wrong to propose independent checking of press self-regulators; the press are right to stick to their own system of self-regulation
* The Leveson Report was right to propose independent checking of press self-regulators and the newspapers should accept that
* The Leveson Report did not go far enough; newspapers should not be able to regulate themselves even with an independent check
* Don’t know
Only 14% of the public agreed with the press position that Leveson was wrong, 47% agreed with the Leveson proposals for an independent audit of press self-regulators, while another 17% felt that the Leveson Report did not go far enough.
This general position was shared by supporters of all parties, but was especially strongly felt by Labour and Lib Dem supporters where less than 10% agreed that the press were right to stick to their own system of self-regulation, over 50% backed the Leveson approach and 1 in 5 said Leveson did not go far enough.
The opposition to the press sticking to their own system of self-regulation is common to readers of all newspapers in this survey, including the:
* Daily Mail (20% agreed with the press line, 50% with Leveson and 14% feeling that Leveson did not go far enough),
* The Mirror (8%, 49%, 21% respectively),
* The Sun (25%, 35%, 9% respectively),
* Readers of the FT, Times or Telegraph (21%, 53% and 17% respectively).
* Among readers of the Guardian or Independent, only 5% thought that press self-regulation without external audit was right. Five times as many think Leveson did not go far enough, while 63% backed the Leveson proposals.
Public backs role for Parliament in specifying structure of press regulation
The poll tested public support for the press industry view that the Royal Charter and other legislation on press regulation was wrong on principle.
The public were asked,
“In March 2013, Parliament debated the Leveson Report and endorsed a Royal Charter which would set up an independent system of oversight for press regulation along the lines proposed by Lord Justice Leveson.
On balance, do you support or oppose Parliament having any role in specifying the structure of press regulation in the United Kingdom?”
* Support; it is legitimate for Parliament to have a role in specifying the structure of press regulation in the United Kingdom
* Oppose; it’s unacceptable for Parliament to have any such role
* Don’t know
A clear majority of those who expressed a preference (and 39% overall) said it was legitimate for Parliament to have a role, while 31% disagreed and 29% did not express a view. This position was supported most strongly by Conservative and Labour voters with net values of +9% and +19% respectively; while Liberal Democrat voters supported the position by a narrower margin (+6%). UKIP voters disagreed with Parliament getting involved (with a net value of -8%).
In this survey, readers of the Daily Mail were narrowly (37% to 40%) against such a role for Parliament, while the margin was bigger in opposition from Sun readers (29% to 40%). Readers of the Mirror (by 43% to 28%) and readers of the Times, Telegraph or FT (by a margin of 49% to 37%) supported Parliament’s intervention. Readers of the Guardian or Independent were strongly supportive of Parliament having a role (59% to 24%).
Public now wants Parliament to act to ensure Leveson happens
The public were asked,
“Lord Justice Leveson said in his report that if newspapers refuse to join his recommended system of independently checked self-regulation then Parliament should pass a law to impose it on them.
Presently, most national newspapers have set up and joined the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which only meets some of the recommendations of the Leveson Report and is not subject to checking by an independent external body.
If the press refuse to join a regulator that is independently and externally checked, which of the following, if any, do you think should be the response?”
* Nothing for the time being, the press should be given more time to show that voluntary self-regulation works
* There should be stronger incentives for newspapers to join a regulator that is subject to, and complies with, Leveson’s independent external checks
* The press should be compelled by law to join a regulator that is subject to, and complies with, Leveson’s independent external checks
* There should be a new independent statutory regulator for the press, as Ofcom is for broadcasters
* None of the above
* Don’t know
19% felt that the newspapers should be allowed more time to show that their new system of voluntary self-regulation works, while 59% explicitly wanted Parliament to act, split between a law making the Leveson system compulsory (22%), creating an independent statutory regulator for the press like Ofcom is for broadcasters (22%) and creating stronger incentives for newspapers to join the Leveson system (15%).
These views were especially strongly held by Labour voters with two thirds backing Parliamentary action (split 26% compulsion, 24% statutory regulator, 15% stronger incentives) versus 13% backing “wait and see”; and Liberal Democrat voters with three quarters backing Parliamentary action (split 27% compulsion, 37% statutory regulator, 15% stronger incentives,) versus 12% backing “wait and see”. It was less strongly by Conservative voters but still twice as many (56%) backed Parliamentary action (19% compulsory Leveson, 19% independent statutory regulator, 18% backing stronger incentives) as supported a “wait and see” approach.
Among readers of all newspapers in this survey, there was a clear majority for parliamentary action.
* Daily Mail readers preferred Parliamentary action by 61% compared to 24% for “wait and see”
* Mirror readers supported legislation by 59% (with half of these backing compulsory Leveson) to 18% who preferred “wait and see”.
* Sun readers preferred legislation to ‘wait and see’ (43% to 28%) while 14% supported stronger incentives.
* Readers of the FT Times or Telegraph were supportive of legislation by a margin of 64% to 20%.
* Readers of the Guardian or Independent were least supportive of the ‘wait and see’ approach favoured by those newspapers (only 14%), and more strongly supportive of compulsory Leveson (27%) or independent statutory regulation (32%) than anyone else. 76% wanted Parliamentary action.
Public sees coverage of the main party leaders as skewed against Miliband
When the public were asked how positive or negative they thought press coverage was of Ed Miliband, a majority thought it was negative (51%), with only 17% believing his press coverage is positive. (21% believe it is neutral). The net positive/negative rating was minus 34%. All newspaper readerships in this survey agreed that coverage of Ed Miliband was more negative than positive.
With the figures varying from readers of the Guardian or Independent (net minus 54%), Daily Mail readers (minus 41%), readers of the FT Times or Telegraph (minus 34%), Sun readers (minus 23%), and Mirror readers (minus 17%). In terms of David Cameron, the public saw his press coverage as positive by 36% to 23% (neutral 28%), a net score of positive 13%. Labour voters and Tory voters had similar views of how David Cameron was portrayed (+21% and +17% respectively), suggesting that this was not simply dependent on party allegiance. Among newspaper readers in this survey, the net positive for press coverage of David Cameron was 19% for Daily Mail readers, 17% for Mirror readers, 12% for Sun readers, 3% for readers of the FT, Times or Telegraph and 46% for readers of the Guardian or Indie. The figures for readers of the Guardian or Independent show that they believe that media coverage is polarised and contrary to the editorial stance of their own newspaper.
Over a third of the public perceive Ed Miliband’s criticism of the press and support for tougher press regulation as a reason for negative coverage he receives
When voters who thought that Ed Miliband’s press coverage was negative were asked what possible causes there were for the negative coverage received by Ed Miliband, 73% cited press dislike of his personality and individual characteristics, 48% cited press dislike of the Labour Party, 38% the press dislike of Labour Party policies in general, and 36% cited the press dislike of his criticism of press behaviour and of his support for tougher press regulation. Those identifying these “press-related issues” as a factor was highest among Labour voters (51%), those who voted Labour in 2010 (46%), and those who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 (41%). In this survey, readers of the Guardian or Independent (62%) and Mirror (37%) were more likely to see this as a factor than readers of other newspapers.
YouGov asked those who cited “press-related factors” as a reason for his negative coverage from some elements of the press, whether they thought this was reasonable or unreasonable. A large majority (70%) thought it was unreasonable, with the figures being extremely high for readers of the Guardian, Independent and Mirror. Though it should be noted that the sample sizes for these sub-groups were sufficiently large for separate conclusions to be drawn.
Ed Miliband gains respect from undecided voters for his stance on regulation of the press
The poll then asked whether Ed Miliband’s support for the Leveson’s system of press regulation made voters respect him more or less, or whether it made no difference. 30% said it did make a difference; 23% more respect, 7% less respect. The 16% net positive was even higher among Labour voters (+36%), Lib Dem voters (+25%), 2010 Labour voters (+29%) and 2010 Lib Dem voters (+31%). Among voters who were undecided, 24% said it made them respect him more and 7% less. Among newspaper readers in this survey, this figure had a net positive in the Daily Mail (+3%), the Mirror (+36%), The Sun (+2%), readers of the FT, Times or Telegraph (+5%), and readers of the Guardian or Independent (+54%). In this last category, only 31% of readers of the Guardian or Independent said it made no difference because either they respected him anyway (23%), or because they didn’t respect him anyway (8%).
The full results and data tables can be see here: Copy of YouGovPoll results
 59% support for Parliamentary action was split between support for stronger incentives (15%), compulsion by law to join a regulator subject to and compliant with Leveson’s external checks (22%) and independent statutory regulator (22%).
29% who supported current level of regulation is split 22% supporting current level of regulation, 4% somewhat less tough regulation and 3% much less tough regulation.
 The 64% who feel press behaviour is the same or has got worse is split between 40% neither better nor worse, 16% slightly worse and 8% much worse.