Only a tiny percentage of people think Britain’s press should be regulated by a body funded by donations.

A poll by YouGov suggests public opinion is not in favour of the funding model used by controversial press regulator Impress.

The model has been criticised because of its potential dependence on donations from wealthy individuals, such as former motorsport boss Max Mosley, who fought a high-profile legal battle with the now defunct News of the World.

The survey of 1,632 people across the UK showed only 4 per cent thought a press regulator should be funded by donations, 25 per cent thought the government should fund it and 49 per cent said the industry itself should fund the regulator.

Rival regulator Ipso, which was founded by news organisations in the wake of Lord Leveson’s inquiry, is funded by newspapers themselves.

The poll was commissioned by newspaper industry body News Media Association.

The poll also showed the issue of press regulation was last of 16 topics on the public’s priority list for the next few years – below issues including animal rights and airport expansion.

A consultation on the UK Government’s proposed changes to the law, which would mean non-Impress publications would be liable for the costs of libel cases, win or lose, ends on January 10.

The Observer has warned that the freedom of the press and its abilities to expose corruption are at stake if publications are forced either to sign up to a Government-approved body or to face potentially huge legal costs even when they win a case.