TVNZ Sunday Programme ‘Misled’ On Abstinence Doco – BSA

Media Release 19 September 2011
The members of the Broadcasting Standards Authority have slammed TVNZ’s Sunday programme for misleading viewers on the success of abstinence programmes, as a result of a complaint about accuracy made by Family First NZ.

The complaint related to a programme by the state broadcaster in April 2011 which investigated the “purity movement” in the US. At the end of the programme, the presenter made an inaccurate and misleading statement about the failure rate of the movement, suggesting that 80% of pledgers broke their pledge.

“As a result of a complaint to the BSA by Family First, half of the members, including the Chairman, were happy to accept that statements made on a news and current affairs programme were not necessarily fact and therefore did not need to be accurate,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“But the other members said that the inaccurate statement was ‘not an accurate reflection of the results of the research’, and that ‘the broadcaster misinterpreted the research’, and ‘consequently misled viewers about the success rate of purity pledges’.”

“In a hard-hitting statement towards our state broadcaster, the members said ‘We emphasise the importance of accuracy in news and current affairs programming and we consider that viewers were entitled to expect that Sunday, as a reputable current affairs programme, would impart reliable and accurate information’.”

Family First agrees. Parents want to and need to know the facts on what works in terms of sex education and protecting their children, and what works in terms of reducing our high teenage pregnancy rate. A recent poll found that three out of four parents of young children want the abstinence message taught in sex education – with just under 70% of kiwis overall supporting the ‘wait’ message.

“This is a direct rebuke to the ‘use a condom’ and ‘everyone’s doing it’ messages being pushed by groups like Family Planning, AIDS Foundation and Rainbow Youth. The safe sex message is failing our young people and failing our families. We should support the majority in abstinence, and demonstrate to the minority the mental, physical and emotional benefits of waiting. And this is exactly what parents want,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Our state broadcaster should be contributing to an honest debate – not misinterpreting and misleading.”

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