Consumers have little faith in business

LONDON — Young people prefer to download film and music illegally because they don’t think that the biz is capable of giving bang for their buck.

An Edelman survey claims that more than a quarter of 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.K. and France would download film and music content illegally due to a lack of trust in the entertainment industry.

While technology companies rated highest in Edelman’s report on levels of consumer trust among opinion elites, defined as educated, affluent and media informed, in France and the U.K., media and entertainment companies ranked behind only insurance companies in terms of the public’s distrust. That distrust helps fuel piracy, argues the report.

Some 41% of 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.K. did not trust entertainment companies to provide them with value for money, compared with an even higher figure of 54% in France. In the U.K., 35% of those asked did not think entertainment companies respected the rights of people who pay for digital entertainment, with that figure rising to 46% in France.

“It’s bad news for the entertainment companies in that consumers are saying they’re used to getting what they want, when they want, without paying for it on the Internet,” said Gail Becker, Edelman’s global head of digital entertainment division. “People are asking if I am going to pay for my entertainment, what value are you going to give us?”

The report will come as particularly sobering reading for Apple execs. The company, which has been ramping up its film and TV download activities in recent months, didn’t even figure when respondents were asked which companies came to mind in the entertainment sector.

Sony was the U.K.’s top-mentioned entertainment company, with EuroDisney topping the French poll.

Also missing were online communities YouTube, Second Life and MySpace.

The report also found that friends and word of mouth were the most important source of information on new products, while entertainment companies’ own Web sites were only ranked at the top by 30% in the U.K. and 11% in France.

“There is good news for the sector in that people do trust the companies to make entertainment content widely and legally available online,” Becker said. “Now entertainment companies need to articulate they’re providing value for money. I think we are witnessing that evolution.”

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