Poll shows public support for independent regulator

by Brian Cathcart

There is overwhelming public support for independent regulation of the press backed by law, a new opinion poll shows. Seventy-eight per cent of those asked – in an unusually large sample of people – said they preferred this kind of body to any regulator established by newspapers themselves.

With weeks to go before the Leveson report is published, the poll is dramatic evidence of the isolation of the newspaper industry, and particularly of those editors and proprietors of national newspapers who continue to press for another round of press self-regulation.

When people were asked whether they agreed that, after the hacking scandal, newspaper owners and editors should no longer control the press complaints system, 77 per cent agreed and only 5 per cent disagreed. Seventy-one per cent thought we could not trust editors to ensure their journalists acted in the public interest, and 68 per cent said the government should do more to correct inaccurate stories.

The poll of 2,846 people was commissioned by Hacked Off and the Media Standards Trust and conducted by Yougov, a member of the British Polling Council which has polled for the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times, among other publications. It was carried out earlier this month.

When compared with other surveys over the past year, the new poll suggests that public opinion is hardening against the editors and proprietors just as Leveson completes his work. And it showed high levels of faith in the judge, with twice as many people saying they trusted him to make fair and effective recommendations as didn’t, and 57 per cent saying the government should implement his recommendations – against just 6 per cent who said it shouldn’t.

Hacked Off shared the poll findings with the Prime Minister last week and has sent them to Lord Justice Leveson in advance of publication today.

View the full poll results here.

Brian Cathcart is director of Hacked Off. He tweets at @BrianCathcart.

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

October 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm

so, after months of squealing and recent megaphone attempts to persuade the Great British Public that the UK press deserves yet another chance to regulate itself, this poll clearly demonstrates a massive fail.


how many people, who we’ve never heard of (or can’t remember), have suffered because of the antics of these bastards? I bet even cathcart can’t put an accurate figure.

but I’m not encouraged; leveson may well recommend independent regulation but cameron has got his own backyard to look after, and in the run up to a GE he may feel tempted to go easy on the 4th estate. wouldn’t do to upset uncle rupert,eh?

Poll shows public support for independent regulator – Brian Cathcart « Inforrm's Blogreply
October 19, 2012 at 12:03 am

[…] post originally appeared on the Hacked Off website. Share this:PrintEmailTwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

Sean Blakereply
October 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm

So why hasn’t the result of this YouGov poll been published in The Sunday Times or The Daily Telegraph? You need hardly ask.
It doesn’t even show on YouGov’s own website so the chances of this getting a public airing are minimal. I’m afraid that is the trouble with this campaign: it needs a better strategy to get results such as these out into the wider public domain; to overcome being frozen out by press organisations whose proprietors and editors are itching to get back to the bad old days.

It would surely be helpful for Lord Leveson to know he has the overwhelming support of the readers of those very newspapers that will doubtless be raving over threats to press freedom should his report suggest any kind of regulation. It would be even more helpful if he knew that those readers knew it, too.

We represent mainstream public opinion now. Paradoxically, the majority of readers don’t know they are the majority because they are always being told otherwise.

Hacked Off: 77% of the public can’t be wrong twice, can they? « Inforrm's Blogreply
October 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm

[…] finding serves to confirm the key figure in the YouGov poll for Hacked Off and the Media Standards Trust, that 77 per cent of the public thought that newspaper owners and editors should no longer control […]

Hacked off about the “Free Speech Network” | Infoismreply
October 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm

[…] Identifying a flaw in a regulatory system that newspapers can opt in and out of does not mean that you support a system of state regulation of the media.  It simply means that this particularly system is not fit for purpose and needs to be overhauled.  Indeed, this particular scenario underlines the strength of Hacked Off’s argument for an independent regulation of the press backed by law. […]

Hacked Off: Ten things the press would rather you didn’t know – Brian Cathcart « Inforrm's Blogreply
November 3, 2012 at 11:44 am

[…] Seventy-eight per cent of the population wants independent press regulation backed by statute. […]

Philip Robinsonreply
December 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

It strikes me that all these government enquiries and investigations are just a sop to pacify the public. Nothing ever gets done following them, they are long drawn out probably to make the public just get bored.
As Leveson himself said, he didn’t want his report to lie on a shelf gathering dust – but it looks like this is precisely what will happen.

Mike Kettlewellreply
December 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm
– In reply to: Philip Robinson

And we pay for them too!

December 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm

So no biased question in this poll then ! How about
Q An independent regulator controlled by ofcom (who are appointed by the serving party) ? or
Q An independent regulator totally separate from government interference ?

Then see what answer you get, talk about manipulation of a poll to get the answer you want !!!

December 1, 2012 at 11:27 pm

The British press should never ever be allowed to get another chance to set their own rules. NEVER AGAIN!

They have proved for many years that the profit motive is much stronger than their sense of human decency in terms of how they treat the average man in the street. They have gotten away with wrecking peoples’ lives for far too long!

The arrogant press needs to be finally put in their place once and for all.


Rafe Roberts-Taylorreply
December 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Who voted for the Tories? YOU did.
Have you learned anything from that experience?
Did you think you were poorly off under Tony Blair? Do you think you’re going to be better off under Cam by the time he’s voted out of office in two years?
All together now ….. Cam – please tell us why you INSISTED that this government should have a fixed term of 5 years?
Any clues anybody?
THINK before you vote these charlatans in again!
Unless your a millionaire, of course (I’m a pensioner, I pay SIGNIFICANTLY more tax NOW!

Don’t be a mug for a second term, don’t vote for the party that has now stamped on the whistleblower who told us how much profiteering the power companies are stealing from YOU!

USE you vote to ELIMINATE the tories – they’re NOT on your side, they are on THEIR OWN side, THAT’S why CAM doesn’t want legislation to control the press!


Simon Hughesreply
December 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm

More accurate to say; 78% of 2,846 people asked in this survey, said that they…etc. Translates to only 2,242 people want an Independent regulator. I agree most ordinary people want this – me included, but only 2,000 or so people have made themselves absolutely clear on this subject – the vast majority of people have not actually said so yet.

John Quickreply
December 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm
– In reply to: Simon Hughes

Simon Hughes clearly doesn’t understand how polling works – or perhaps he only understands the method for polls whose findings he agrees with?

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The Leveson inquiry backlash is already under way | Brian Cathcartreply
February 12, 2014 at 6:52 pm

[…] press regulated independently (ie not by itself) – just as they probably missed another poll for Hacked Off a week earlier showing almost exactly the same […]

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