Sunday, March 20, 2005


Via email:
A while ago on your blog you posted about the Close Up Gay Poll being misleading. Not sure if you noticed, but TVNZ have now responded to the complaint:

TVNZ has washed its hands of responsibility for the misleading 'ripple effect' created by its 'Close Up @ 7' phone poll on the Civil Union Bill last year, which the network implied showed public opinion overwhelmingly against recognising gay relationships.

In responding to a complaint made by media watchdog group GayWatch and to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, TVNZ's programme standards manager David Edmunds again acknowledged that the poll was unscientific, but thought it 'patronising' that GayWatch and could suggest that the general public were unaware of this. 'It is our belief that viewers understand that by their nature they are not scientifc polls,' he wrote. 'We do not feel the necessity to spell out their unscientifc nature each time one is conducted.'

Edmunds also dismissed evidence presented in the complaint to show the 'ripple effect' created in other media by TVNZ's reporting of the poll, which was presented on TVNZ's website as indicative of how the population was feeling rather than how many calls were received. 'What news media outlets elsewhere made of the telephone poll is of no relevance to a formal complaint investigation about a programme broadcast on 2nd December.'

As a final barb, Edmunds called into question the integrity of the complainants. 'We venture the view that this complaint would not be before the Authority (nor even lodged with TVNZ) if the final numbers in the poll had been reversed.'

The BSA has requested a final response from GayWatch and before it makes its ruling.
Is it patronising to make plain the limitations of poll results to viewers? Each time a scientific political poll is mentioned on the news, they correctly mention the margin of error in the poll. Each time a nonscientific poll is mentioned, they should also mention the limitations of it.

There's huge problems with phone in polls, as mentioned on your website earlier. I don't think it is patronising to assume that people in the general public don't know these problems.


Blogger Anonymous said...

Patronising or responsibly informing?

20 March 2005 at 10:24 pm  

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