Majority of Britons want press watchdog backed by law - poll

LONDON Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:24am GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of Britons are in favour of an independent press regulator established by law, according to an opinion poll published in the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, a day before a judge is expected to issue a report on problems in the industry.

The poll found that 79 percent of Britons surveyed want the government to introduce legislation to create an independent press regulator. Only 9 percent oppose tough measures regulating the press.

Senior judge Brian Leveson is expected on Thursday to recommend a new independent body with statutory powers over the press instead of the current system of self-regulation that the industry wants to retain.

Leveson oversaw a year-long public inquiry into the press that was prompted by a phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World Sunday, a News Corp (NWSA.O) tabloid the media tycoon then shut down.

The poll, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Media Standards Trust, found that over 80 percent want national newspapers to be obliged to sign up to the new system by law.

Most of the British newspaper industry is opposed to a regulator underpinned by law, as they argue it would curb freedom of speech.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Paul Simao)

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