Sunday, 18 November 2012

MPs should give priority to more important issues than press regulation - claims new poll of voters

A new poll conducted on behalf of the Free Speech Network, which has launched a campaign against statutory controls on the press in the run-up to the Leveson Inquiry findings, claims to show voters do not believe press regulation should be a major priority for their MPs.

Instead they say the MPs should be concentrating on more important issues such as the economy,  immigration and health care.

The poll also says 55% of respondents said they were more concerned by allegations of a cover up at the BBC surrounding Jimmy Savile than were concerned by either phone hacking allegations or allegations of payments to police and public officials.

The poll, conducted by Survation, says seven in ten people believe there is no need for new laws or state regulation of the press.

The poll also found two-thirds are proud of Britain's standing in the world as a model for press freedom and free speech.

Of the respondents, 39% said their local papers were a positive force in their local community, more than double the 15% who thought they were a negative force.

Findings of the poll include:
  • Only 0.5 per cent of people think regulation of press a priority and nine out of ten do not list press regulation as a "Top Ten" issue;
  • 71 per cent of people believe there is no need for new laws or state regulation of the press;
  • Two-thirds are proud of Britain's standing in world as a model of press freedom and free speech;
  • Two-thirds want to see libel laws amended to get actions settled more cheaply; and
  • 91 per cent support free speech. 
Commenting Bob Satchwell, chairman of the Society of Editors, said: "The British people are clear that they want a free press and free speech. We agree. This is why the industry supports a new system, independent of both government and the newspaper industry to ensure the highest standards in the press without undermining its capacity to hold people such as politicians to account.

"We have established a free press in this country over 300 years – we don’t want to reverse this trend. It would send a terrible signal to emerging democracies around the world if this were to end. How can we encourage the freedom of the press and free speech abroad, if we are threatening it at home?"

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