Public critical of News International's handling of phone hacking scandal

As news emerged this weekend of the approval of test cases against News of the World over phone hacking allegations, an exclusive poll reveals the public is sharply critical of News International's handling of the affair.

Rupert Murdoch: too much media control
Rupert Murdoch: too much media control

A PRWeek/OnePoll survey of 2,000 members of the public this week found that 83% felt News International should have apologised earlier for the phone hacking scandal, which dates back to 2007. Just 5% of respondents backed the organisation’s response to the allegations.

It was reported over the weekend that a High Court judge has called for four test cases for alleged victims of phone hacking by the News of the World, including actress Sienna Miller, to go ahead later in the year.

It also emerged last week that a third NoW journalist had been arrested as part of Scotland Yard investigation into phone hacking.

News International issued a statement last Friday apologising over the affair and creating a £20m compensation fund for victims.

38% of survey respondents said that the phone hacking scandal had given them a more negative opinion of the News of the World, but the majority (56%) said their opinion had not changed and 5% said it had actually improved since the revelations.

A small proportion (10%) said the phone-hacking affair would stop them from buying the News of the World, but the wider reputation impact on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire may be more significant.

60% said that News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB should be postponed until the police investigation into phone hacking is complete, while only 16% believed it should continue.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to give his final verdict on the bid before the end of the month. Former deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott has called for the decision to be put on ice until the police inquiry is resolved.

Additionally, 73% of respondents said that Rupert Murdoch would have too much control over the UK media if NewsCorp did complete its buy-out of BSkyB. Just 10% disagreed that Murdoch’s media stable was too powerful.

More encouragingly for News International, UK subsidiary of News Corporation, the public sees phone hacking as a wider media problem rather than being limited to the News of the World.

63% of respondents said they thought phone hacking had been widespread, with only 10% thinking it was just happening at the News of the World.

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