Free TV Australia Takes Aim at “Outdated” Election Advertising Rules


SYDNEY: Free TV Australia is calling for an end to the country’s current election advertising blackout, which bans political ads on commercial broadcasters and radio from midnight on the Wednesday before an election until polls close on Saturday night.

The blackout is a provision of the Broadcasting Services Act, which was passed by the Parliament in 1992, prior to the introduction of pay TV and widespread internet access in Australia. Critics, including Free TV Australia, believe that this blackout now offers social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook an advantage in the final days of the campaign.

Harold Mitchell, the chairman of Free TV Australia, said: “The rules are yet another example of the failure of successive governments to keep pace with changes in technology and consumer behavior. The so-called electronic media blackout has become a joke.

“With reports that up to 40 percent of people are now pre-poll voting, the blackout is more meaningless than ever. We all know that from midnight tonight the political parties will simply transfer their advertising from television to other digital media platforms that are not regulated, such as digital news media sites and social media. For example, online news sites will be plastered with wall-to-wall political advertising, including video ads.”

Mitchell added: “We are calling on the new Parliament to get rid of this outdated provision which only serves to put commercial broadcasters at a disadvantage to all other digital media.

“It is hard to see what public interest is served by maintaining the blackout. Australians should be able to access information about elections on all digital media platforms.”