Public support for a free press drops sharply
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 29 July 2011
Public support for a free press in Britain has dropped sharply since the phone-hacking scandal erupted, according to a new survey.
Research agency TNS has been monitoring public opinion about the press since the super-injunctions controversy. In May, a majority (58 per cent) of people backed a "completely free press" without newspapers being subjected to court orders. Some 42 per cent supported restrictions on what the media could publish. By this month, opinions had hardened against newspapers. Only 34 per cent of people now prefer a completely free press, while 66 per cent would rather see restrictions.
However, two thirds agree that illegal behaviour by a few journalists should not be used as an excuse to reduce press freedom.
According to TNS, 83 per cent of the public believe media groups have enjoyed too much influence over elections and politicians in the past but expect that to change as a result of the scandal.
Only one in three people believes David Cameron responded well to the controversy, with 47 per cent saying he did not. Only one in four people believe the Metropolitan Police responded well, but 67 per cent say they did not. A majority (61 per cent) think News International was right to close the NOTW.
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