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TVNZ Keeps Viewers In Dark Over Misleading Footage

TVNZ has upheld ACT Leader Richard Prebble’s complaint that news footage showing the Prime Minister in parliament denying Jenny Shipley’s allegations regarding “digging up dirt” on Dover Samuels as misleading.

The One News story showed Ms Clark shaking her head in denial when in fact she was not present in Parliament on that day. Library footage was used and not attributed. However, as TVNZ has not apologised to the public, the ACT Leader is taking the complaint further.

“Apologising in private to the Speaker is not an adequate response.

“It’s the viewers who were misled and TVNZ has not told the viewers of the error, or the complaint, or that it was upheld.

“I do not object to the use of library footage, just the fact that viewers are not told.

“To assist TVNZ until they can make a full on-air apology, I have put their latest letter on the ACT website, http://www.act.org.nz/action/archive/tvnz2.html, said Hon Richard Prebble.


ENDS


Attached:
Letter to Broadcasting Standards Authority
Letter to TVNZ


31 August 2000

The General Manager
Broadcasting Standards Authority
P O Box 9213
WELLINGTON

Dear Sir/Madam
I write requesting a review of my complaint to TVNZ. My original letter of complaint, TVNZ’s response and my reply set out the issues. This is a serious issue.

Both TVNZ and TV3 regularly use library film without advising the viewers.

I see myself on TV as being present in Parliament, when not only did I not participate in the particular debate, I am not present!

Accurate newscasting requires the viewers to be informed when it is library film.

Apologising to the Speaker in private cannot be an adequate response. It’s the viewers who were misled. The viewers still do not know that in this case the Prime Minister made no response because she was not there!

A ruling from the Authority that:

(a) Library film should never be used on news broadcasts to fabricate an event – such as the Prime Minister shaking her head in denial.
(b) Where there is any chance of viewers not realising they are viewing archaic film – the viewers should be informed it’s library film.
(c) Where viewers have been deliberately, or as TVNZ claims, accidentally misled, the broadcaster should at the first opportunity advise viewers of the fact they have been misled.
Yours sincerely

Hon Richard Prebble, CBE
LEADER, ACT NEW ZEALAND


31 August 2000

Mr David Edmunds
Programme Standards Manager
TVNZ
P O Box 3819
AUCKLAND

Dear Mr Edmunds

This is to acknowledge your letter of 29 August upholding my complaint.

I note “The Committee accepted, without reservation, that the Prime Minister was not in Parliament at the time Mrs Shipley made her allegations and that therefore the shot of her shaking her head provided an account of proceedings which was, quite simply, wrong.”

I note further that:

1. TVNZ has apologised to the Speaker.
2. The item was removed from your website.
3. New rules for using shots of politicians if they were not in fact present have been issued.
4. Stories must be vetted.
5.
I see one glaring omission. TVNZ sees no obligation to advise the viewers that the news story was misleading. Quality news services such as the BBC and CNN, as a matter of course, advise their viewers when the news broadcast was misleading. Such action by TVNZ would increase public confidence.

A second action TVNZ should take would be to regularly add a sub title – library film, when what we are watching was not filmed at the time, but is instead from the archives. If that had been done in this case, a complaint would not have been justified.

For these reasons I am writing to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Yours sincerely


Hon Richard Prebble, CBE
LEADER, ACT NEW ZEALAND

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