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Confidence in the press at lowest level for 30 years according to British Social Attitudes survey

By Dominic Ponsford

Confidence in the UK press has sunk to its lowest level for 30 years, according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey.

Based on a weighted survey of 950 adults the survey found that 27 per cent felt 'the press' is well run, compared with 53 per cent of respondents in 1983. Only the banks fared worse in terms of public confidence, with 19 per cent of respondents saying that they were well run.

It is the lowest confidence level in the press over the 30 years that the BSA has been run. Only the banks have seen a bigger plunge in trust levels, from 90 per cent saying they were well run in 1983. The survey does not distinguish between nationals and regionals, or broadsheets and tabloids.

The survey comes as a question mark continues to hang over the future of press regulation.

The survey pre-dates the Jimmy Savile scandal at the BBC and finds that confidence in that organisation has grown from 49 per cent thinking it was well run in 2009 to 63 per cent in 2012.

The majority of newspaper and magazine publishers are pressing ahead with the formation of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, with the frst contracts due to be signed next month binding publications into the new self-regulatory system.

But many politicians favour the creation of a more independent regulator, underpinned by statute.

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Two rival Royal Charters outlining the rival publisher and Parliament-backed press regulation systems are due to go before the Privy Council next month. Without the support of a Royal Charter-backed recognition body, the new press regulation system will not protect publishers from the threat of exemplary damages in libel actions.

Percentage of Britons saying major institutions are well run in 2012 (1983 figure in brackets):

  • The police: 65 per cent (77)
  • BBC: 63 per cent (72)
  • NHS: 52 per cent (54)
  • Trade unions: 33 per cent (29)

The British Social Attitudes survey 2013

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