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Channel 9 have a strange definition of accurate and impartial

YOU may recall a few weeks ago we took Channel Nine to task over their outrageous report on the Wedgetail WT-15-01 firearm, which among other things described it as a “murder weapon” and a machine-gun. Channel Nine have provided what can only be described as an outrageous and laughable response to our formal complaint, which we now share with you, our members and supporters. The .pdf of the letter is here.

“In order to respond your complaint, our Compliance Department have reviewed the Report, the Code provisions referred to, and the concerns that you have raised. Based on our review, we have not been able to identify any factual material contained in the Report that was inaccurate. (emphasis ours) Indeed, the Report referred to information from the Queensland police when describing the firearm.

Nine maintains that the Report accurately represented factual material as required by the Code.

With respect to the allegations of bias against lawful gun owners, the Report contained an analysis of the recent confiscation orders issued in Queensland, as well as using online polls to illustrate how upset the confiscation orders have left gun owners. As indicated above, the terms used in the report were obtained from Queensland Police.

The Report also involved interviews with a representative of the Firearm Owners United, Kirk Yatras, a Gun Control Australia representative, Samantha Lee and a lawyer from Rostron Carlyle Rojas Lawyers, Maria Bouci.

We note that the Report did not assert that opinion that suggested illegality on the part of lawful gun owners. In fact, the Report included the statements from Mr Yatras that described the numerous differences between the firearm and a machine gun.

Further, Mr Yatras indicated that the confiscation orders where due the lack of
excessive recoil which has assisted inaccuracy surrounding the Firearm.

While the Report did include a statement from Ms Lee observing that the firearms were “very dangerous weapons”, this was clearly indicated as being the perspective of those calling for greater gun control.

This was immediately followed by a voiceover implying that it is unfair that gun owners are not being compensated for their loses as a result of the confiscation orders. This was also immediately followed by Mrs Bouci’s statement that “it’s definitely fair if they do receive compensation from this mistake by police.”

Based on this, Nine maintains that the Report was impartial and did not suggest any impropriety on the part of lawful gun owners such as to constitute a breach of clause 3.4.2 of the Code. (emphasis ours)

Additionally, having reviewed the Promotion, Nine considers that the references to the word “Machine gun” constituted facts (emphasis ours) which were to be expanded within the Report.

Nine Moreover, given that the issue of firearm ownership and regulation is an important public interest issue, Nine considers that the Report was an appropriate critical examination of a controversial issue, as contemplated by clause 3.4.3 of the Code.

Accordingly, we do not consider that there has been contravention of any matter covered by the Code in this instance. (Our emphasis)

We hope that this helps to address your concerns, however if you are not satisfied with this response, you are able to refer the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority”
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THE SHORT VERSION:

As we see it, Channel Nine are dismissing our complaint, claiming it wasn’t inaccurate because they apparently used police information (To the best of our knowledge QPS have never described the gun in question as actually being a machine-gun or a murder weapon), they weren’t biased because they talked to someone from a pro-shooting organisation, and that it’s OK to
describe things as a ‘machine-gun’ when they aren’t because… it kind of looks like one maybe, and someone said it actually wasn’t a machine-gun in the later news report itself?

We note no mention was made of the “murder weapon” claims or the general hysterical tone of the promotions for the piece – which was a strong element of our complaint – in the response.

Suffice it to say we will indeed be referring this matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority – it’s one thing to spread or promote sensationalist misinformation about lawful firearms users in Queensland, but it’s quite another to basically tell us to get stuffed when we stand up and hold the perpetrators to account. The one positive out of this is proof that complaints made via the official channels will at least be looked into – so the next time you see a TV station getting it badly wrong when reporting on firearms, file a complaint, and let the media know that firearms owners won’t stand for inaccuracy, sensationalism and fearmongering.

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