Reputation survey: Privacy is a privilege

The majority of the public believes the UK should have a privacy law, but that celebrities who make money from their private lives have fewer rights to privacy.

As the coalition Government unveils plans to introduce new privacy legislation, PRWeek/One Poll's latest survey of 3,000 members of the public reveals that 60 per cent agree the UK should have a privacy law to protect media intrusion into the lives of those in the public eye.

But while the public was supportive of high profile figures' right to privacy it did have conditions. Thirty-one per cent said high-profile figures should be able to use injunctions to stop press stories about them, but 53 per cent said they should only be able to do this if the stories were untrue.

Likewise, 68 per cent of respondents said celebrities who made money by revealing details of their private lives to the media did not have the same rights to privacy in the future.

The figures also show the appetite for celebrity stories is wearing thin. A huge 89 per cent of those asked said the media placed too much importance on celebrities. Nearly 52 per cent said they would not be persuaded to buy a newspaper or magazine because it had a celebrity on the front cover.

Interestingly, 51 per cent of respondents believed the public had a right to know about the private lives of the royal family, compared with 36 per cent for sports stars. Fifty-six per cent said the public only had a right to know about a politician's private life if it contradicted their public image, while 49 per cent said the public only had a right to know about a sports star's private life if it was something that undermined their sports performance (eg drug taking).

Survey of 3,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll

HOW I SEE IT

Simon Jones, Co-founder, Hackford Jones

The issue of privacy is always a thorny one. This survey clearly shows a sway in public support for a privacy law, with 60 per cent agreeing one should be implemented. High percentages supporting stories on royals, politicians and sportsmen show that privilege still equals public information for many.

A thought-provoking statistic for PROs is that 68 per cent believe celebrities do not have the right to privacy if they sell their private lives. We always advise our clients to consider doing this carefully. You cannot play the media.

If you are inciting interest for financial gain, it's very difficult to turn around and shout 'privacy'.

And the statistic that 53 per cent believe stories should only be stopped if untrue is pretty damning for celebrities currently using injunctions to stop unsavoury stories. It seems that the public is favouring privacy with certain conditions.

Does the public have a right to know about the private lives of ...

Politicians

Only if it contradicts their public image 56%

Yes 25%

No 19%

The Royal Family

No 49%

Yes 51%

Sports stars

Only if it is something that undermines their performance (eg Drug taking) 49%

Yes 36%

No 15%

Media importance

89% of respondents agreed the media places too much importance on celebrities

Making money

68% said celebrities did not have the same rights to privacy in the future if they made money by revealing details of their private lives to the media

Privacy law

60% agreed that the UK should have a privacy law to prevent media intrusion into the lives of those in the public eye

Injunctions

53% said high-profile figures should only be able to use injunctions to stop the press writing stories if they were untrue

Celeb appeal

52% said they would not be persuaded to buy a newspaper or magazine because it had a celebrity on the cover

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