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BSA Accepts Bias In Political Advertising

Saturday 10 September 2005

Broadcasting Standards Authority Accepts inherent bias in political advertising Professor

Whatarangi Winiata, President, Maori Party

The Maori Party today received the findings of the Broadcasting Standards Authority in response to their complaint that a party political advertisement for the Labour Party should have been pulled on grounds of unfairness and inaccuracy.

“While we are disappointed at the Authority’s decision, we note their explanation that “political advertising is inherently biased, and will inevitably use facts selectively to promote its own purpose” stated Professor Whatarangi Winiata, President of the Maori Party.

“In its findings, the Authority notes that the nature of political advertising means that ‘political parties will inevitably cite individual statistics divorced from their complete context”. The Authority also stated that the nature of political advertising is that regardless of context they will use facts selectively, “to create negative implications and to discredit opponents”.

“People now recognise Labour’s scaremongering and misuse of statistics as deceptive practices of a desperate party”.

“Labour can’t have it both ways : it cannot insult Maori at the same time as it courts the Maori vote. The Maori Party may be the last cab off the rank for Labour, but for our people, it’s the only cab that will get them home”.

>From July 2004 to August 2005, the Maori Party and the Green Party voted with each other 450 times; a difference of some 100 votes between any other combination. During that same period, Labour and National also voted together on many occasions; while the Maori Party and Labour voted with each other 280 times.

“Yet the Labour ads variously refer to the Maori Party as having voted the same way as the National Party on either, contradictorily, 227 (in print ads) or 277 times (radio ads), yet fail to mention the broader context”.

“It was for that reason that we felt the Labour Party use of voting numbers in radio (and print) advertising, was highly selective, irregular and failed to meet generally recognised standards of truth”.

“Our biggest concern was using large numbers selectively to frighten voters, and implying that to vote with a particular party somehow meant you followed the same philosophy. The reality is of course, that the way in which we voted is not about who we voted with, but what we voted for. In every case we have voted for – or against – in the best interests of Maori. For example, we voted against the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, whereas Labour voted for it”.


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