Push to end ‘arcane' election ad blackout advances

By Chris Pash | 14 March 2019

Free TV Australia's push to end the "archiac" election blackout on political advertising on television and radio has been backed by a Senate inquiry. 

The industry body has applauded a recommendation by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for the removal of the restrictions on political advertising on television and radio. 

The Senate committee wants the federal government to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 prohibiting broadcasters showing any election advertisements in the three days before an election. 

The restriction doesn't apply to print or online advertising. 

Free TV Australia has also made a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into digital platforms, saying election blackout is a regulatory disparity. 

The Senate committee’s report noted the current television and radio advertising blackout does nothing to stop electioneering on those days. Many also cast their votes before election day. 

"The election advertising blackout is arcane and outdated and we fully support the committee’s recommendation to get rid of it," says Free TV Australia CEO Bridget Fair. 

"The restriction was introduced more than a quarter of a century ago and has been made redundant by changes in the media industry, in particular, the rise of online media.

"It’s farcical that broadcasters have to adhere to the three-day blackout, while the unregulated digital platforms can run ads right up to, and on, election day.

“It makes absolutely no sense that come election day, the only place you won’t find a political ad is on television or radio."

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