Channel Nine makes Australian Marriage Forum ad U-turn

Nicola Riches
By Nicola Riches | 18 March 2015

Channel Nine has performed a U-turn and will screen future ads booked by the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) after an internal review, AdNews has learnt.

The network’s volte-face comes on the back of an internal discussion in which it was apparently decided that the ‘political rating’ issued by the Advertising Standards Bureau for the ad warrants further airings.

The original advertisement (entitled ‘Think of the Child’) aired on both Channel Nine and Channel Seven over the Mardi Gras weekend. SBS, however, refused to air it. The TV ad lobbies against “the injustice at the heart of same-sex marriage”.

As AdNews reported yesterday, Channel Nine is believed to have previously cancelled broadcasts of the crowd-funded ads, which have sparked complaints from all communities including the advertising industry itself, and a source had confirmed late last week that it had cut ties with the organisation.

However, AdNews has since learnt that the network will run AMF ads, with another already scheduled in – prompted by the issuing of the ‘P rating’. The network is understandably wary of the perception of its stance on free speech, and is also mindful of the legal ramifications of being seen to be censoring a political ad, particularity in the run up to the state elections.

Nine has declined to comment.

The Australian Marriage Forum’s David Van Gend told AdNews: “Channel Nine has been professional and apolitical on this, and is not going to cave in to a small and uncivil pressure group.”

He added: “This is an important public debate about changing the foundational institution of society, with all of its complex implications for children and for culture. It is not to be censored by certain citizens who prefer to censor and intimidate public debate.”

The ASB issued a statement saying that it will not bring the ad to the Board for adjudication as it falls under the scope of political advertising, and does not fall within the scope of the AANA Code of Ethics.

Political advertising, it says, “is advertising that attempts to influence or comment upon a matter which is currently the subject of extensive political debate.”

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