Nine rejects Clive Palmer ads for promoting misinformation on COVID, but anti-lockdown ads remain

Nine Entertainment Co has revealed that it has rejected advertisements from Clive Palmer’s political party, that it considers contravene government issued-health advice on vaccines.

Last week Mumbrella published an op ed by regular columnist Ben Shepherd, questioning why a brand such as The Age would have an ad from Palmer’s political party criticising lockdowns and calling the Liberal and Labor party untrustworthy on the front page, when at the same time it is running a media campaign about is focused on ‘Minds wide open‘. The ad also ran on the front pages of News Corp’s The Australian as well as several other regional mastheads, and Nine’s The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review. The Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian and Seven West Media’s The West Australian* continue to have Palmer political ads for the party on the front pages today.

A Nine spokesperson said: “Nine has been vocal in our support for the health advice and has actively used our TV, newspaper, digital and radio properties and ad space to urge Australians to get vaccinated. We would also note that when we have received ads which contravene the health advice or ATAGI guidance on vaccines, we have rejected them.

“However, individuals in a free society, have the right to purchase clearly labelled political advertising which questions lockdowns as a policy response. These views do not reflect Nine’s position on these issues, which we have clearly expressed, and have no impact on the work of our journalists. But as a media organisation we do not believe in censoring ads that do not contravene the health advice or ATAGI guidance on vaccines.”

The Clive Palmer ad on the cover of The Age

Ad Standards spokesperson told Mumbrella that it had received complaints about Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party advertisements. However, truth and accuracy in political advertising is not covered by the advertising codes and initiatives administered by Ad Standards.

“Currently, there is no legal requirement for the content of political advertising to be factually correct. Complainants are advised to raise their concerns with the advertiser directly and/or with their local Member of Parliament,” a spokesperson said.

According to the Ad Standards code: “Where the complaint relates to an advertising or marketing communication that may be regarded as political or election advertising, the complaint will usually not be forwarded to the Community Panel for its consideration. The adjudication of complaints about political and election material is outside the charter of the Community Panel… Complaints about the content of political advertisements are best directed to the advertiser or local Member of Parliament.”

It is understood Nine’s public statement on the matter of rejecting ads from Palmer follows a joint letter from five federal cross-benchers to Nine Entertainment Co and News Corp calling on them to stop publishing ads from Palmer that spread misinformation about COVID-19. The MPs are: Adam Bandt, Helen Haines, Rebekha Sharkie, Zali Steggall and Andrew Wilkie.

When approached by Mumbrella, the minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, declined to comment on the regulation of political advertising.

Front page of The Australia 13 August 2021

News Corp was also approached by Mumbrella but did not respond in time for publishing.

This article has been updated from an earlier version.

*This information was received following publication based on a third party source.


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