Sky News displays the strongest political bias of any major UK news broadcaster, according to a survey conducted by TheMediaBlog.co.uk, the full results of which will be published later this week.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent) said Sky News displays a clear pro-Conservative bias in its reporting. In total, 34.5 per cent of respondents said Sky News displays a "strong Conservative" bias, while 29.3 said the channel shows "some Conservative" bias. One per cent of respondents thought Sky News displays a pro-Liberal Democrat bias, there was zero suggestion of any support for Labour and only 9.1 per cent of respondents said Sky News shows no overall bias.
The second strongest bias, indentified by the survey of 1,054 respondents, was on ITV News - also believed to be pro-Conservative.
In total, 11.3 per cent said ITV shows a "strong Conservative" bias and 17.5 said it shows "some Conservative" bias. However, the bias was less clear-cut than Sky's and 6.2 per cent of respondents said they believe ITV is actually pro-Lib Dem, while 4.1 per cent identified a pro-Labour bias. The channel also faired better than Sky with the 28.9 per cent of respondents who said it shows no overall bias, and nearly a third (32 per cent) saying they are unsure.
Channel 4 and the BBC meanwhile faired far better - seen as being largely impartial on balace.
In terms of perceived neutrality, Channel 4 faired best of all, with 48 per cent of respondents saying the channel displays no clear bias and 27.1 per cent saying they are unsure. Any perceived bias on Channel 4 was split across all three main parties - Lib Dem (15.7 per cent), Labour (8.4 per cent) and just one per cent Conservative.
The BBC meanwhile showed the second greatest level of percieved neutrality (43.8 per cent), with perceived bias split across Labour (25 per cent), Lib Dem (11.4 per cent) and Conservative (9.4 per cent).
The below chart illustrates the bias identified by the survey (...continues):
While far from scientific, if we were to assume all perceived bias is equal and trade off conflicting bias, we are left with the following findings, ranking the broadcasters in order of the extent of perceived overall bias (lowest first):
1. BBC News: 4.2 per cent pro-Labour
2. Channel 4 News: 6.3 per cent pro-Lib Dem
3. ITV News: 18.5 per cent pro-Conservative
4. Sky News: 63 per cent pro-Conservative
All this is perception of course and potentially a reflection of people's own political allegiances to some degree, so we would be first to agree that a survey of this size and nature should not be regarded as definitive by any means. But please have your say, by posting a reader comment below. Full findings of the survey, which polled 1,054 people (on 19-23 April 2010) will be published later this week.