70% of Britons oppose Sky takeover

Peter KellnerPresident
July 11, 2011, 4:28 PM GMT+0

As the story surrounding News International continues, President of YouGov Peter Kellner considers our most recent results on the controversy

Ed Miliband was right to say the public opposed the News Corporation’s plans to take full control of BskyB. Only 9% of voters think the takeover should be allowed; 70% think it should not. Opposition is strong even among the (now former) readers of the News of the World: they oppose the takeover by 55-19%.

This emerges from one of two surveys conducted by YouGov on the phone-hacking scandal. This result relates to one of 13 questions commissioned by the Sunday Times, which is ultimately owned by News Corp. The other survey consisted of nine questions commissioned by Avaaz, a global web movement that has been campaigning against News Corp.

The main findings speak for themselves:

Sunday Times survey

  • Just 6% think News International (the British newspaper arm of News Corp) should continue to investigate the allegations that the News of the World hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler. 90% think they should bring in an outsider to conduct the investigation. Among News of the World readers, the margin is 88-10%.
  • Two-thirds of the public (66%) think politicians and other media groups have been right to highlight the allegations of hacking by the News of the World. Just 14% think they have ‘exaggerated the seriousness of the allegations for their own ends’.
  • Just 8% think phone-hacking was confined to the News of the World. 78% think ‘other tabloid papers probably used phone-hacking too, the News of the World was just unlucky to get caught’.
  • By two-to-one (56-26%) the public thinks News International was right to close down the News of the World. The paper’s own readers divide 35% in favour of closure, 52% against.
  • 61% think the Press Complaints Commission, a voluntary self-regulation body, should be replaced by a formal authority set up by Parliament.
  • 72% think it is NEVER acceptable for a journalist to pay a police officer for information, even if this is done to expose political corruption or criminal behaviour.

Avaaz survey

  • Half the public (49%) think the BskyB takeover would reduce media diversity. Just 4% think it would increase diversity; 23% think it would make no difference, while 24% don’t know.
  • 52% think the takeover would lower journalistic standards; only 3% think it would raise standards.
  • Just 10% would trust News Corporation to implement the conditions set out by Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, if they owned 100% of BskyB. 73% would not trust the company.
  • Only 11% think ‘Rupert Murdoch and other News Corporation executives’ are ‘fit and proper’ to own British media; 67% think they are not. Readers of NI’s own Sunday papers, News of the World and Sunday Times, divide 56-20% in thinking they are not ‘fit and proper’.
  • 72% think Murdoch has ‘too much influence’ over British politics; and 51% think the Prime Minister is too close to News Corp executives. (It should be noted that most of the fieldwork was conducted before David Cameron’s press conference on Friday.)

However you look at these results, the picture is bleak for News Corporation. Its executives have a vast challenge to restore public faith in their operations.

One final point. YouGov’s main media client is News International. Our main, in depth, weekly poll is the one we conduct each Thursday and Friday for the Sunday Times. It is worth saying, for the record, that the 13 Sunday Times questions we analyse today, in this blog and in our detailed results archive, were all asked at the paper’s request; and that the paper accepted every YouGov amendment to ensure that the survey was both comprehensive and impartial.