Media Standards Trust Poll Shows Lack of Public Support for Press Royal Charter


Media Standards Trust YouGov poll, 1st – 2nd May 2013

This YouGov poll, commissioned by the Media Standards Trust was conducted between 1st – 2nd May 2013. The weighted sample size of 1,851 GB Adults (aged 18+) ensures that answers can be reliably tested against political party affiliation. No results drawn from subsets of less than 100 are included in this summary. Some figures derived from newspaper readership are from samples close to 100, and so margins of error are accordingly increased.

Full results are available here: MST YouGov Poll Results May 2013 (.pdf)

Read the press release here: MST YouGov Poll Press Release May 2013 (.pdf)


Summary of results

  • 56% of respondents would have ‘not much confidence’ (34%) or ‘no confidence at all’ (22%) in the system of press regulation set out in the press Royal Charter. 20% would have confidence in the system, of which 4% would have ‘a lot of confidence’.
  • If the cross-party Royal Charter were to be abandoned in favour of the press Royal Charter, 73% of the public fear a risk (36% a ‘large risk’) of a repeat of the illegal and unethical practices that were revealed during the Leveson Inquiry. 9% felt that there was ‘no real risk’ (8%) or ‘no risk at all’ (1%).
  • Respondents indicated that they were strongly in favour of an arbitration system for people who feel they have been libelled or harassed by the press to use as an alternative to the courts being obligatory (52%) as the cross-party Charter stipulates, rather than optional (18%) as the press Charter dictates.
  • 76% support (50% ‘strongly’) the proposal in the cross-party Charter, that ‘a new regulator should be able to direct a newspaper to print a correction and/or an apology on the same page as the original story if it reports something incorrectly, even if it is on the front page’. 4% opposed the suggestion, with 10% neither supporting nor opposing it.
  • If the cross-party Royal Charter were to go ahead, 52% of those respondents who read a newspaper would want their favoured paper to join the new system and would be disappointed if they didn’t, compared with 10% who would not want their paper to join and would be disappointed if they did. 28% would not mind either way.
  • Asked whether the system of press regulation should be signed off on the 15th of May, 38%  believed it should be signed off as planned, while 37% felt that the new regulator should be delayed until agreement has been reached with newspapers. 25% didn’t know.

Results by political party support

  • Supporters of the three main parties whose agreement underpinned the original Royal Charter were consistent in their lack of confidence in the press Charter, with 50% of Conservative voters, 61%  of Labour voters, and 82% of Lib Dem voters having ‘not much’ or ‘no confidence’ in the alternative press Royal Charter. Combined ‘a lot’ and ‘a fair amount’ of confidence for party supporters were 28%, 18% and 8% respectively.
  • Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters were more likely than average (73%) to see a risk of a repeat of unethical and illegal practices, with 76% of Conservatives, 75% of Labour supporters, and 89% of Lib Dems believing there is a ‘large’ or ‘small’ risk.
  • On arbitration and corrections, again party supporters were more likely than average (52%) to believe arbitration should be obligatory (54% Conservative, 54% Labour and 71% Lib Dem), while 80% of Conservatives, 77% of Labour supporters and 89% of Lib Dems support a new regulator being able to direct corrections and apologies of equal prominence to the original articles.

Results by newspaper readership

  • When readers of newspapers were asked whether they would want their favoured paper to join the new system set out in the cross-party Charter, 50% of Daily Mail readers said that they would, against 12% who would not. Sun readers were less supportive, with 33% in favour and 12% against, but Guardian readers (67% vs 10%), Times readers (68% vs 7%) and Telegraph readers (58% vs 14%) were strongly in favour.
  • On arbitration, Times readers were overwhelmingly in favour of an obligatory arbitration system (75%, against an average of 52%), with Guardian readers a close second (71%). Telegraph readers (65%) were also strongly in favour.
  • On corrections, there was overwhelming support for a regulator having the capacity to direct equal prominence of corrections across all readerships: Mail – 81%; Sun69%; Mirror81%; Guardian 85%; Times 88%; Telegraph – 86%.
  • Apart from Sun readers (37%) and Mail readers (47%), a majority of readers would have  ‘not much’ or ‘no’ confidence in the system set out in the press Charter (57% Mirror; 72% Guardian; 73% Times; 60% Telegraph).
  • There was a strong fear of a risk of a repeat of illegal and unethical practices in the event that the press Charter system was put in place, with 71% of Mail readers, 66% of Sun readers, 72% of Mirror readers, 90% of Guardian readers, 86% of Times readers and 81% of Telegraph readers seeing a risk.


For more information or to discuss the results please contact Dr. Gordon Neil Ramsay on

+44 (0)20 7727 5252 or at

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,851 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st and 2nd May 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by their rules.

All data is derived from categories with more than 100 responses, ensuring reliability of results. Some figures derived from newspaper readership are from samples close to 100, and so margins of error are accordingly increased.