The TV3 Debate Judgement is now online.
While many reasons are given for the decision, significant reliance appears to have been placed on what I believe to be an incorrect interpretation of the margin of error.
Paragraph 15 says “in such polls margins of error are often considerably larger than the margins separating the smaller parties”
In paragraph 37 it says “one poll result, especially where the margin of error exceeds the total percentage of votes of some parties and well exceeds the difference between the parties is no rational basis on which to base any such decision.”
This is quite wrong as the gap between Progressive and ACT does not exceed the margin of error for those parties.
Paragraph 40 says “basing its decision on a single poll where a margin of error was 3.1% and the differential in support of 0.2% between an invited party leader and an uninvited party leader, TV3 is acting unreasonably and arbitrarily.”
And again this is the wrong margin of error being quoted.
The above paragraphs are quoting the applicant’s submissions. The Judge himself agrees in paragraph 44 saying “It is clearly established that a single poll with small percentages and high levels of error provides little or no guidance on actual relative electoral support.”
Again I assert that the difference between ACT and Progressive in the poll is significant as the margin of error is in fact less than a quarter of the 3.1% quoted.
And finally in paragraph 45 the Judge says “The error rate well exceeds even the difference between the fifth and eighth parties” which is totally incorrect.
While I believe the bigger issue for TV3 and the media is the whole issue of should a court second guess editorial judgement, the errors made with relation to the margin of error also provide a sound basis to appeal. I would be happy to assist them with any appeal on that point.