The press regulation poll the media deliberately ignored


by Tim Fenton    
8:55 am - March 26th 2013

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The Fourth Estate has found itself in a state of total agreement over one subject: the lack of inclination to report the latest Sunday Times YouGov poll, which in addition to the usual popularity questions, also asked about last week’s Budget.

It also asked about press regulation.

And the responses obtained showed that the public were not just supportive of the moves last week to establish a new independent regulator underpinned by statute, but were supportive by a larger margin than previously.

That suggests all the abuse and other personal attacks by those same papers has not turned their beloved readership against the new regime the editors don’t want.

So they just decide not to report it – not even the paper that commissioned it. And when you look at the numbers, that is no surprise. Here’s the first four questions.

Do you support or oppose the proposed new press regulation system? Support 52%, Oppose 23%. By a 5 to 2 majority.

Do you think the proposed new regulation system is or is not a threat to press freedom? Is a threat 27%, is not a threat 53%. By a 2 to 1 majority.

Do you think it is right or wrong that newspapers who choose not to join the new regulator should face larger damages if they are taken to court over libel, privacy or other civil matters? Right 55%, wrong 23%. By a 5 to 2 majority.

Do you think the new system will or will not give politicians too much influence in what news the papers report? Will give too much 31%, will not 41%. By a 4 to 3 majority.

One group which has reported the poll results is Hacked Off, carrying analysis from the Media Standards Trust’s Gordon Ramsay, who wasted no time in pointing out that support for the new system of regulation has increased over the past week from 43% to 52%, and that the percentage responding that the new setup would not threaten press freedom had gone from 38 to 53 – both now commanding a majority.

Yet still the ranting continues, with swivel-eyed ranter in chief Peter Hitchens going off the end of the pier in style in the Mail On Sunday yesterday, followed by the lame blethering of Trevor Kavanagh in today’s Sun. Both keep pushing the meme that press freedom is being either threatened, or that its termination is imminent. But it’s not having the desired effect.

The public is probably getting less reliable information on this subject than any other being reported right now. But it can clearly see through the fog of falsehood and misinformation, which would suggest, once more, that the game may be up.

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About the author
Tim is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs more frequently at Zelo Street
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Reader comments


The Weimar Republic voted in Hitler. What’s your point?

You don’t just let liberty die because of majority agreement.

@1

Godwin in six words. Magnificent.

3 – Godwin indeed but he does have a point.

And so what? If we were governed by opinion poll, then probably immigration to this country would stop, there’d be capital punishment and a burqa ban. But I guess none of those would go down too well here at LibCon

Always amusing to see the tory butler trolls defending their corporate masters. These are the same morons who tell us how wonderful the private sector is. They can’t stop lying. Talk about the ministry of truth. It is the corporate owners who hide the truth.

Corporate media is a cancer on democracy. Because corporate owners don’t want a democracy. And neither to tories. Power yes, but only for themselves.

@1, 2, 4, 5

What you wilfully miss is that the press would expect opinion to move in their favour, given the effort they have put into their campaign. It has not.

Without any kind of support, their ability to persuade Government is diminished, and they are then left with arguing that (for instance) press freedom will be terminated because, well, they say so.

As @2 is doing, many commenters are starting from the false premise that their liberty is about to be removed, and so their argument goes round in a circle.

You fail to make sense, you go nowhere.

8. So Much for Subtlety

7. Tim Fenton

What you wilfully miss is that the press would expect opinion to move in their favour, given the effort they have put into their campaign. It has not.

Why has anyone missed it? It is irrelevant. Unless you think that the British public has some deep instinctive love of freedom. It does not.

Without any kind of support, their ability to persuade Government is diminished, and they are then left with arguing that (for instance) press freedom will be terminated because, well, they say so.

As an utterly illogical argument that is impressive. It is perfectly possible for freedom to diminish along with public apathy. We have seen it often enough. The fact that the papers cannot mobilise the British public to save one of their few remaining freedoms does not mean that they are not about to lose said freedom. They are.

As @2 is doing, many commenters are starting from the false premise that their liberty is about to be removed, and so their argument goes round in a circle.

You fail to make sense, you go nowhere.

Except the premise is not false. The government is going to decide what we can and cannot say in the media. We are about to lose a major liberty. That this does not seem to be getting through to the public is utterly unrelated to the fact it is about to happen.

Always remember who these titans of corporate media are. Murdoch…..Who has run a mafia outfit bribing police officers, and stealing private information to intimidate, and blackmail politicians. Even as he was being investigated he was offering columns to a tory MPpposed to be holding him to account.

Conrad Black who although does no longer own Telegraph newspapers was ranting in the Lords yesterday. It’s amazing he sits in parliament, even though is is a convicted crook, liar. (Thank the tory law and order brigade for that one)

The Mail…..They supported Hitler. All you need to know.

Desmond… The pornography, and weirdo Princess Diana fetishists.

The Mirror Whose biggest shareholder was Right wing investment company Fidelity. (Staunch Right wing republicans and big donors to GW Bush.

The Independent & Evening Standard .Russian owner with ties to oligarchs.

The British corporate media in all it’s narrow glory. I wouldn’t trust any of them

10. Rod Robertson

As none of the present newspapers represent my view on anything ,it would not worry me if tomorrow they all closed down.
They are a self interest group that are only interested in the status quo of power in the hands of the few.
Anything that looks remotely likely to be progressive is immediately attacked.
Raising taxes on wealthy to reduce poverty gap portrayed as some sort of communist plot.
They are vile and anythnig that clips their wings works for me

Rod: “They are vile and anythnig that clips their wings works for me”

Be careful what you wish for. Right wingers said this about terrorists when Blair passed various laws ostensibly aimed at terrorists, and the risk of being detained under Section 44 when attempting to protest then applied to them just as much as any terrorist.

In this case, the punitive damages provisions of this legislation may well severely threaten Private Eye, alongside some other small newspapers.

Having said that, a lot of the ranting against these proposals is deliberate exaggeration; no politician is going to be in a position to dictate permissable opinions to the press here.

@7, 10 – if you’re happy with a looking glass world in which the government holds the press to account, then I despair

10 I agree. I couldn’t care less if they all went bankrupt tomorrow. It really would be no loss to the UK. Hitchins, and Philips and all the other weirdos could get jobs in call centres selling insurance.

No difference in fact. Lying for a living.

Still bet Cameron will u turn on this. He is being carpet bombed by the press daily and although the public seem to be seeing through it an election on the horizon does wonders for political short termism.

The media still believe he will cave in to their demands. And Cameron may get every last drop out of the moronic lib dems before his u turns on this issue.

@12 – Doubt we’ll notice much difference from the world were the press can’t be arsed to hold the government to account, unless someone else has already done all the work for them first.

People are also very stupid.

Isn’t the answer to many of these problems more press rather than less?

The arguments blaming the ‘corporate media’ are some of the worst thought out arguments I have ever heard. What is the alternative? a state media? I don’t know about you but banning the ‘corporate media’ to simply support a single media sounds a lot like North Korea to me.

So really what we need is more media, whether its corporate media, state media, or even blogs such as Liberal Conspiracy. We need media for the left, media for the right, media for the libertarians and media for the communists. Only then can we decide upon which views we adopt.

Added to this the argument that somehow because the majority want press regulation does not make it right. The majority of people surveyed I am sure would be unable to tell you who conducted the inquiry, or even how fundamental freedoms are protected in the UK.

I respectfully disagree with Leveson LJ. This is a question of enforcement. The regulation being proposed will not stop another incident like this. The law is there to set boundaries and when those boundaries are broken prosecutions should follow. If any changes were to be made, tougher sentences should have been addressed.

What this has become is a conduite for various interest groups to press their agenda, including LC. It seems that in all of this that “making sure it doesn’t happen again, or reducing the possibility” has been forgotten

17. JimmyRushmore

The public would probably bring back capital punishment too if you gave them the choice. It doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. I also find it ironic that a blog entitled “Liberal Conspiracy” is so desperate for state regulation of the press.

18. Julia Fenton

Why do you assume that Peter Hitchens’ motives are dishonest?

I read his article, and whatever else you may think of him, it seems to be motivated by genuine concern for the freedom of journalists. A professional would respect that even if he disagreed with the content.

You claim that freedom is not threatened. But your justification is only that the regulator won’t be controlled by politicians. You assume that politicians are the only people who wield political influence! Come off it, you know this is not true. There can be no “independent” regulator.

In a corporate state, the state media are the corporate media.

The corporate media only hold govt to account, when said govt is doing something the corporate media does not like. Hence the corporate media blackout on NHS privatisation.

Anybody who thinks the corporate media has the best interests of the people is an idiot.

I find it ironic that the press is whining about being regulated, when they are all in favour of the current oppressive laws towards trade unions and want to go even further in some cases, even imposing an undemocratic 50% rule.

21. Shatterface

So do the public think bloggers should be forced to sign up – and if so will you be cheering them on?

22. Dislecksick

Congratulations. In years to come, people will look back at the utter, spiteful, politically motivated dickheads who lost the freedom of the press. The King’s colours of the masses.

23. Dislecksick

Congratulations. In years to come, people will look back at the utter, spiteful, politically motivated dickheads who lost the freedom of the press with contempt. The King’s colours of the masses.

Doubt we’ll notice much difference from the world were the press can’t be arsed to hold the government to account

Guess you missed the expenses scandal, then.

25. Shatterface

When Blair brought in his ‘anti-terror’ laws few people predicted that we’d see councils spying on parents to see if they lived in the right catchment area.

The difference now is that when the State inevitably abuses its powers there won’t be any reports.

@24 That’ll have been a disgruntled civil servant handing the Telegraph said story on a plate, after having already been told ‘no story’ by the Express. Hence the rest of my comment which you didn’t quote after the comma.

Doubt we’ll notice much difference from the world were the press can’t be arsed to hold the government to account

Guess you missed the expenses scandal, then.

That’ll have been a disgruntled civil servant handing over the files and story on a platter to the Telegraph after first being told ‘No Story’ by the Express. I did account for that with the rest of my comment which you didn’t quote – “unless someone else has already done all the work for them first.”

“Yet still the ranting continues, with swivel-eyed ranter in chief Peter Hitchens going off the end of the pier in style in the Mail..”

“Swivel-eyed ranter”?

Isn’t this they kind of abuse that those who want Regulator censorship will have banned?

This is all from Nick Cohen’s article in the Spectator:

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/nick-cohen/2013/03/leveson-dont-be-frightened-by-the-state

If you are a writer or publisher – who has never hacked a phone or monstered an innocent person – and are frightened by the attempt by Leveson and the current parliament to extend exemplary damages, take some heart from this briefing from Gill Phillips, the chief legal officer at the Guardian and Observer.

“It is worth noting that Lord Justice Leveson neither invited nor received submissions on exemplary damages during his Inquiry and the recommendations in the Report on exemplary damages are based on an out of date Law Commission report which was prepared before the Human Rights Act 1998 was passed.”

In other words, he didn’t know what he was talking about and did not take steps to remedy his ignorance. Phillips continues

“What is regarded as particular objectionable is the fact that these single out for punishment a particular category of defendant, rather than a particular kind of conduct, all the more so where the category of defendant singled out includes the press. The advice here is particularly strong, namely: to punish the press for what others may do without punishment is inconsistent with the special importance that both domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence attaches to freedom of the press under Art 10 of the ECHR.”

Leaving aside the very serious concerns in principle about introducing exemplary damages, anyone reading what is proposed in the latest draft clauses and comparing them with what the Leveson Report recommended can’t but say that these current clauses are a million miles away from what the Report recommended.

In other words, the courts will strike this down. This is why no big publisher apart from the editor of the Independent is signing up to the new regulator. They know that Hugh Grant, Miliband and Clegg have got greedy and stupid. They had the old Fleet Street on its knees. It was willing to offer concessions, many of which I would have welcomed because I believe that the old Fleet Street needs a tough independent regulator as long as there is no hint of political control.. But like many another greedy and stupid man before them, they have overreached, and may end up with nothing. The first publisher to be hit with exemplary damages will be able to take a human rights case to Strasbourg if necessary. I know from private conversations that lawyers are queuing up to fight what would be one of the great free speech cases in British legal history, and that they are confident that they can win

@27

That’ll have been a disgruntled civil servant handing over the files and story on a platter to the Telegraph after first being told ‘No Story’ by the Express. I did account for that with the rest of my comment which you didn’t quote – “unless someone else has already done all the work for them first.”

Well don’t worry then – with the new press regulation in place, there won’t even be this level of scrutiny of the government.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dguiAWrUGMM
Well, it’s interesting to see the robust effects the first amendment has toward a free press in action.


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