TVNZ has refused to uphold a complaint by media watchdog group GayWatch and GayNZ.com over coverage of a misleading phone poll that the network implied showed public opinion overwhelmingly against recognising gay relationships, despite describing the poll as “transparently unscientific”. On December 2 last year, in the lead-up to final vote in Parliament on the Civil Union Bill, TVNZ's flagship current affairs programme “Close Up @ 7” ran an 0900 phone poll asking the question “Should gay relationships be legally recognised?”. The overwhelming majority of callers paid 99 cents to say “no”, and host Susan Wood implied in her closing comment on the show that the poll was indicative of public feeling. TVNZ replied that Wood's comment was “obviously” an expression of opinion, and that at no time it had implied that its “transparently unscientific” phone polls were an accurate reflection of public opinion. Christopher Dempsey of GayWatch says the group is “disappointed” by TVNZ's response. “As a public broadcaster of note, TVNZ influences a wide range of media; this was clearly demonstrated by the use of the "poll" in subsequent media,” he says. “TVNZ needs to lift its game by committing to clearer descriptions of polls it commissions. Serious polls that can be independently verified as being scientifically sound need to identified as such, nonsensical polls, such as the one carried out by Susan Wood, that are not scientifically sound need to clearly identified as such.” GayWatch and GayNZ.com will be appealing the decision to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Friday, 11th February 2005 - 12:00pm
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