Ad watchdog says it will not rule on controversial anti-marriage equality ad

Despite receiving a number of complaints against the weekend’s anti-marriage equality ad from the Australian Marriage Forum the ad watchdog has announced it will not adjudicate the ad as it falls under the scope of political advertising.

In a blog post the Ad Standards Bureau (ASB) said: “ASB has decided not to bring this to the Board for adjudication as this advertisement falls under the scope of political advertising, and does not fall within the scope of the AANA Code of Ethics.

“Adjudicating on complaints about political advertising could be regarded as unduly restricting the implied constitutional freedom of political communication or interfering with the political process.”

While broadcaster SBS pulled the controversial spot from its Sunday night telecast of the 37th Sydney Mardi Gras, it did air on Channel 7 and 9 on Saturday while the parade was underway.

It features a mother sitting at a playground table with her daughter while her husband and son play in the background. It also features David van Gend, the president of the Australian Marriage Forum.

On its decision to not examine the ad, the ASB said: “The advertising self-regulation system was established as an industry initiative with the objective of regulating commercial communications, not advertisements containing political claims aimed at influencing the political process.

“In our view, it is not possible to make decisions about whether a political advertisement breaches the Code without the potential for being seen to be taking a political viewpoint.

“Opening up the system to political advertising could invite spurious claims and nuisance complaints that may cause disruption to the normal political process and an inappropriate drain on limited industry resources.”

The decision follows on from the ASB not examining complaints against a controversial pro-Palestine billboard in Melbourne last year due to it also being deemed political advertising.

Miranda Ward 


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