Free TV takes aim at election advertising blackout, calling laws ‘outdated’

TV industry lobby group Free TV Australia has taken aim at the “electronic advertising blackout” calling for an end to the regulation which does not apply to pay-TV and internet advertising.



Mitchell: current laws outdated

Free TV chairman, Harold Mitchell, said in a statement:“The so-called electronic media blackout has become a joke.

“The rules are yet another example of the failure of successive governments to keep pace with changes in technology and consumer behaviour”.

Free TV noted how the blackout is part of of the Broadcasting Services Act, which was passed back in the early ’90s before pay-TV and internet access became widespread in Australia.

Mitchell also noted the high number of people who were pre-poll voting to argue the law, which takes effect this evening, was outdated.

“With reports that up to 40% of people are now pre-poll voting, the blackout is more meaningless than ever,” said Mitchell.

“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.”

The pay-TV lobby has also taken aim at the blackout laws.

CEO of pay-TV’s ASTRA organisation Andrew Maiden backed Mitchell’s call for the abolition of the blackout rules.

Maiden: pay-TV backs a rule change.

Maiden: pay-TV backs a rule change.

“Subscription television is also captured by the blackout laws and agrees they are anachronistic given the growth of social and other digital media,” said Maiden.

“The rule is an example of the regulatory red tape that ties up the local television industry.  Removing this outdated rule should be a high priority for the new government.”

Mitchell said the TV networks wanted the law changed to reflect the modern media environment.

“We are calling on the new Parliament to get rid of this outdated provision which only serves to put commercial broadcasters at a disadvantage to all other digital media,” he said.

“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”.


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