Saturday, December 18, 2004

Phone Polls on 'Close up at 7' and GayWatch have made a formal complaint to TVNZ under the Broadcasting Code over phone polls on 'Close up at 7', specifically the question "should gay relationships be legally recognised?" on December 2nd. The results showed 76% of the 17,000 calls said "no".

"Viewers and the public were clearly misled into believing the poll was an accurate reflection of public feeling.

For TVNZ to get away with misleading viewers throughout the country on its flagship current affairs programme sets an unbelievable and disturbing precedent for other media."
The article quotes Leila Boyle from Auckland University who explains the biases with 0900 telephone polls:

  • The method is unscientific.

  • People are not selected randomly - they only canvass the relative minority of New Zealanders watching the programme at the time, and then only the number that feel strongly enough to vote and pay for the privilege of doing so. No allowance is made for repeat voting.

  • The questions may be worded unfairly.

  • The results are unlikely to be representative of opinions of New Zealanders in general, yet they are interpreted by the media as if they are.

“A lot of people have called in,” Wood reported, ignoring the probability of multiple calls. She described the number of people against gay relationships “overwhelming”, concluding the programme with the comment, that it “makes you wonder which polls the government is relying on to say that this Bill has support”.

On TV One’s “Tonight” news programme Lindsay Perigo was suggesting the Close Up At 7 poll may even affect the way politicians voted at the final reading of the Bill:

“I didn’t get that from the Close Up At 7 poll. Now you see that’s interesting because that margin was so decisive against the Bill...that that could actually spook another couple of politicians into the other camp, if I may use that expression, and so then we do have a really tight race. And the politicians are really really sensitive to public opinion on this matter, so that could be a last minute complicating factor.”

In at least two news items posted on TVNZ’s website, the poll was presented as an accurate representation of public feeling, referring to “people” rather than “calls”. One item included: “A recent Close Up at 7 poll found New Zealanders strongly opposed to legally recognising gay relationships.” goes on to talk about the ripple effect of this poll, and its incorrect interpretation, into other forms of media. and GayWatch have identified five codes which they believe TVNZ breached (see their article for full reasoning):

  • 4a: Programmes which deal with political matters, current affairs, and questions of a controversial nature, must show balance and impartiality.

  • 5a: Significant errors of fact should be corrected at the earliest opportunity.

  • 5b: Broadcasters should refrain from broadcasting material which is misleading or unnecessarily alarms viewers.

  • 5d: Factual reports on the one hand, and opinion, analysis and comment on the other, should be clearly distinguishable.

  • 5e: Broadcasters must take all reasonable steps to ensure at all times that the information sources for news, current affairs and documentaries are reliable.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

About time someone critiqued the flawed 0900 poll method. However, to get a reputable polling company to do the job (such as Colmar Brunton) would cost TVNZ money rather than make them money.

Someone needs to get some basic statistics education and make sure that the polls are interpreted correctly. Even scientific polls have margins of error - which are clearly not well understood when you hear politicians (and the media) state that their support is "under" the margin of error.

18 December 2004 at 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. Will be interested to know the results of the complaint.

How are similar 0900 polls handled overseas? Are their disclaimers on the inferences one can make from such polls?

18 December 2004 at 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and the same goes for peoplemeters....

which dictate ratings

(and thereby advertising)

(and thereby a programs commercial success)

(and thereby what gets funding for prime time)

can anyone enlighten me on the requirements
to be eligible for a people meter?

i know you have to be a house owner

(thereby eliminating a large part of the demographic
of a lot of prime time television)


thats quite enuff fckng therebys


18 December 2004 at 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be interested in their response.

However, do and GayWatch perpetuate the myth that 10% of people are gay? Has thie "significant error of fact" been "corrected at the earliest opportunity"?

That figure is based on another flawed statistical poll which was debunked years ago. All current research points to 1-3% being homosexual.

19 December 2004 at 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone on this page rightly pointed out that all current research shows only 1-3% of the population being homosexual.

Something the gay community conventiently overlooks, because being part of an allegedly 10% minority gives them more political clout.

But the real figures raise an interesting thought.

If gays only make up between 1% and 3% of the population, that's below the margin of error in most polls...

So maybe the whole gay thing is a giant myth?

Like Santa!

20 December 2004 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"that's below the margin of error in most polls..." You have just stated a common error, it's simply statistically illiterate to say that any person or party is polling below the margin of error. It just doesn't make any sense. Have a read of this article which explains more.

With an 0900 poll, there's no calculatable margin of error because the polling is not done randomly (i.e. statistically/scientifically) - it's a self-selecting sample.

20 December 2004 at 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no way TVNZ will pull phone polls - they make thousands off them don't they?

20 December 2004 at 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say a good 10% are gay or at least enjoy gay sex from time to time. But I would accept 1-3% are active and self acknowledged gays.

21 December 2004 at 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that no research supports your belief.

21 December 2004 at 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My reasearch is anecdotal which I say is a lot better than your pompopus prejudice.

21 December 2004 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not pompous - I'm a scientist and I go by scientific evidence and well-founded research rather than anecdotes ... "Anecdotal evidence is evidence stemming from a single, often unreliable source which is used in an argument as if it had been scientifically or statistically proven. The person using anecdotal evidence may or may not be aware of the fact that, by doing so, they are generalizing."

21 December 2004 at 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spare a thought this festive season for poor Brian Tamaki and his Destiny Church.

In only Brian had been gay he'd still have his own show on TVNZ.

No one would have dared dump him!

21 December 2004 at 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Basing a conclusions on anecdotal information is far more scientific than simply dismissing something without any basis at all which is what you did. I have a scientific background as well as legal training.

22 December 2004 at 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't dismiss without basis - would you like me to list all the studies done and their findings?

22 December 2004 at 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fight, you bastards, fight!! No one with a brain thinks these polls are credible. They are no different from TVNZ news. No one with a brain watches or heeds either. The news is slanted to get ratings and the polls are a money maker. Its Bullshit TV at its best. If the news were credible it would not rely on the million dollar persona of an autocue reader.

Have a nice day!

22 December 2004 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something worth investigating -- as it could add weight to the complaint -- is who actually gets the revenue generated by all the 0900 calls. I heard that Paul Holmes got the revenue from the polls on nights he was on; it was written into his contract. Hence he has an interested in (a) defining as sensationalist a question as possible; and (b) constantly repeating the poll question during the programme.

22 December 2004 at 4:44 PM  

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