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Beat Up @ 7

Wed 15 Dec 2004 In: Television View at NDHA

Our country's broadcast news media are charged with an awesome responsibility. Radio and TV stations are required, according to the Broadcasting Code, to show balance and impartiality (particularly surrounding politics, current affairs and controversial issues), to refrain from broadcasting misleading or inflammatory material, to distinguish clearly between fact and opinion, to correct significant errors of fact at the earliest opportunity, and to ensure at all times that its information sources are reliable. At several points during the emotive Civil Union Bill debate, adherence to these codes was questionable in some quarters, no more so than TVNZ's Close Up At 7 0900 phone poll on December 2 which asked: “Should gay relationships be legally recognised?” The result was a predictable landslide for the fundamentalist right who clearly jammed the phone lines with multiple calls. 76% of the calls said “no” to gay relationships. Only 24% of the calls said “yes.” Over seventeen thousand calls and texts at 99 cents each were received, grossing a cool $17,000+ from the exercise. The last time TVNZ conducted a poll on this issue was in April, three months before the first reading of the Civil Union Bill. This poll, conducted by reputable polling firm Colmar Brunton, found a majority were in favour of recognising same-sex relationships. In fact, every random scientific poll conducted in the media over the last year gave similar results. An AC Nielsen poll in October 2003 found 68% support for same-sex relationship registration. A 3 News poll in June had over 50% in favour of civil unions. A NZ Herald Digipoll in September registered 56% support for civil unions. Even a 3 News TNS poll broadcast the same night as the Close Up At 7 poll, with a contentiously-worded question telling punters that the Civil Union Bill was “a form of gay marriage”, found support for the Bill was still 46%. A HISTORY OF FLAWED POLLING   

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Wednesday, 15th December 2004 - 12:00pm

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