Worthless opinion poll is beside the point - talk rather than scream

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01 May 2013 09:32:03 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

An opinion poll carried out on behalf of the Free Speech Network is claiming that most of the public support the alternative royal charter proposals drawn up by newspaper publishers. And it further purports to show that the people are against parliament's royal charter because "a clear majority" believe politicians should be kept away from press regulation. The results of the poll, by the market research company Survation , are given big treatment in today's Daily Mail and are also carried on the Daily Telegraph's website. But given the nature of the survey questions, the responses are unsurprising. And the highlighting of them by papers forms part of the propaganda war being fought by publishers in order to pressure prime minister David Cameron to withdraw the charter agreed by parliament in favour of their own alternative charter. It is very doubtful if the 1,001 people who were polled in the survey genuinely understood the import of the key questions, which did not explain any context. People were asked: which of the following statements is closest to your opinion? "The new press regulation system should be set up in a way that gives politicians the final say if and when changes need to be made." or "The new press regulation system should be set up in a way that does NOT give politicians the final say if and when changes need to be made." The result? Only 15.8% said the former while 66.5% opted for the latter. If I were to step into the street and ask people questions in which the word "politicians" was replaced by "publishers" I am sure there would be a massive negative vote too. Similarly, another Survation question asked: "It is proposed to set up a new royal charter to provide the framework for press regulation. Do you think: a) The royal charter should be subject to consultation so the public can have their say? b) There's no need for public consultation if the royal charter has been approved by politicians? The totally predictable answer showed 76.1% in favour of (a) and just 12% supporting (b). Without wishing to get into an unnecessary dispute with Survation about the merit of such research, the company must have known the outcome of the survey before the fieldwork was carried out. Anyway, the Free Speech Network - the front organisation created by newspaper and magazine publishers - were happy enough, naturally. So they sent the "astonishing" findings to various editors and five of them are quoted in a press release offering support to the publishers' charter and condemning the one agreed by MPs and peers. I accept that they are sincere reflections of those editors' views, but I'm not bothering to record them here because this exercise is, to be frank, sadly misguided. It is a worthless piece of propaganda. As I argue in my London Evening Standard column, available later today, it is time for the interested parties to talk to each other rather than scream. With 14 days left before the Privy Council meets to consider the alternative royal charter proposals, it is vital to find an acceptable compromise. There is enough common ground. Before all goodwill - and all good sense - vanishes, someone of stature who has the respect of both sides should host a summit meeting and sort out the differences. Press regulation Opinion polls Daily Mail Daily Telegraph National newspapers Newspapers Magazines Press freedom David Cameron Judicial committee of the privy council Roy Greenslade guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds         Full article on Worthless opinion poll is beside the point - talk rather than scream

Vice All News Time01 May 2013 09:32:03


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