Sky Sports has escaped the recent sexism row with its reputation among the public largely unscathed, new figures show.
More than half the 3,000 respondents to PRWeek/OnePoll's latest survey said the channel should not be judged on the views of errant presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys.
While 57 per cent said they thought Gray and Keys were sexist, just 22 per cent said they thought the channel itself was sexist. And 64 per cent of respondents said their opinion of Sky Sports had not changed, compared with 30 per cent who said their opinion had become more negative.
Wider media coverage of the Sky Sports row was considered sexist in itself by two-thirds of respondents, thanks to several newspapers publishing pictures of female official Sian Massey in a short skirt, taken from her personal Facebook page.
But a surprising 19 per cent of respondents did not think women should be allowed to be match officials in football, and 15 per cent said women should not be allowed to be involved at board level in football.
And 65 per cent of respondents said women's football should not be given as much prominence as men's football.
Following Gray and Keys' comments about Massey, football personalities such as Rio Ferdinand and Kenny Dalglish came out in support of female match officials. Marginally more than half the respondents thought this was their honest opinion, but 48 per cent felt this was a 'PR stunt'.
Forty-one per cent of respondents felt Gray and Keys should have been suspended from Sky Sports for a short time. Just 26 per cent said they should have been sacked.
Survey of 3,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll
HOW I SEE IT
Keith Gabriel, Senior account manager, Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Despite Sky Sports facing accusations of being a bigots' rewrite of Jurassic Park, public perceptions of the broadcaster have remained largely positive. By acting quickly, Sky Sports has kept the sexism debate targeted firmly on Andy Gray and Richard Keys.
Fewer than a fifth of people polled thought the naughty boys should be absolved of all blame; a similarly low figure believed Sky Sports itself was a sexist TV station. Both findings indicate Gray and Keys were seen as bad apples.
Sky Sports' holier-than-thou stance was further helped by muddle-headed news media coverage. The public may, on occasion, be daft. However, it is not so daft as to miss the irony of 'vilify the sexists' stories accompanied by holiday snaps of a professional referee in a mini-skirt.
Amusingly, the fact Sky Sports' female presenters are almost exclusively young, blonde and glamorous doesn't appear to trouble the public.
81% of respondents agreed that women should be allowed to officiate in football matches
Sexism in Football
71% agreed with the view that football is 'institutionally sexist, run by an old boys' club'
Gray and Keys sacking
26% believed Andy Gray and Richard Keys should be sacked
How has the Andy Gray and Richard Keys sexism row changed your opinion of ...
More positive - 7%
Unchanged - 64%
More negative - 29%
THE TWO INDIVIDUALS?
More positive - 7%
Unchanged - 42%
More negative - 51%
SHOULD WOMEN'S FOOTBALL BE GIVEN AS MUCH PROMINENCE AS MEN'S FOOTBALL?
Yes, it's the same game - 35%
No - 44.5%
No, its not the same - 20.5%