Communications Authority issues warning to TVB over biased reporting on home appliance brand 

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18th June 2024 – (Hong Kong) During a recent scrutinization by the Hong Kong Communications Authority, TVB’s infotainment program “The Scoop” came under fire for airing a segment that allegedly portrayed a home appliance brand in a biased and potentially damaging light. The episode, which aired on 25th November, 2023, led to an official warning from the authority, urging the broadcaster to adhere strictly to the standards set forth in the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards.

The complaint centred on a segment where a couple expressed dissatisfaction with their gas cooking range, specifically the shattering of its tempered glass surface. The segment not only showcased the brand prominently without neutral coverage but also lacked a balanced view or adequate response from the brand before airing.

Despite TVB’s claim that the segment aimed to address public safety concerns promptly, the Communications Authority found the broadcaster’s actions insufficient for a fair and balanced report. The authority highlighted that the brand had requested more time to investigate the incident and provide a comprehensive response, which TVB ignored.

In its defence, TVB argued that the segment was broadcast swiftly due to editorial judgment and the urgency of public safety. The broadcaster claimed to have made reasonable efforts to present both sides of the story, including the brand’s response. However, the follow-up coverage on November 29 did not further explore the brand’s side of the story, focusing instead on a similar incident involving another brand and an expert’s opinion.

The Communications Authority meticulously reviewed the details of the case along with TVB’s representations. It was determined that while the segment did not contain inaccurate information, the approach taken by TVB did not afford fairness to the featured brand. Specifically, the brand’s request for more time to respond was overlooked, and the program proceeded without concealing the brand’s identity or offering a subsequent platform for response as promised.

This oversight, according to the authority, could mislead the audience and unfairly damage the brand’s reputation. As a result, the Communications Authority concluded that TVB failed to comply with paragraphs 9, 15, and 16 of Chapter 9 of the TV Programme Code, which mandate fairness and a right of reply in factual programming.

The decision to issue a warning reflects the Communications Authority’s commitment to maintaining high standards in television broadcasting in Hong Kong. It underscores the importance of media outlets providing balanced information and protecting the reputations of individuals and organizations.

TVB has been urged to rigorously follow the provisions of the television code, particularly regarding the treatment of factual content and the handling of complaints and critiques that could negatively influence public perception.

Source: TVB