Networks ban anti-Murdoch ad
Australia’s commercial TV networks have banned an advertisement that criticises the anti-Labor coverage of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers.PT2M14S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2t3fw 620 349 September 3, 2013
Australia's commercial TV networks have banned an advertisement that criticises the anti-Labor coverage of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers.
Channels Seven and Ten refused to air the ad commissioned by GetUp, while Nine screened it over four days in Brisbane – then cancelled it after blaming a "coding error".
It was great when you could pick up a paper and get, well, news.
GetUp says it will report all three networks to the competition watchdog for alleged "misuse of market power".
The group has accused the broadcasters of censorship to avoid displeasing Murdoch and his company, News Corp. It intends to lodge a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, claiming the networks have breached rules by refusing to supply their services.
In the banned advertisement, a man is seen scooping up dog faeces with a copy of News Corp's Courier Mail.
The man tells viewers: "It was great when you could pick up a paper and get, well, news. Recently, the Courier Mail and the Daily Tele have been using their front pages to run a political campaign instead."
The man says it is "fair enough" for Murdoch to hold a personal opinion about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd but adds: "Political bias presented as news is misleading crap".
In an email to GetUp, a Seven sales executive said the network had "decided to make a stand" against the "distasteful" and "potentially offensive" ad.
A Seven spokesman told Fairfax Media: "We can choose whether to run a television commercial or accept a booking. We chose not to."
Network Ten has refused to comment but is aware of the complaint made against them.
A Nine spokeswoman said the ad "was never supposed to run ... there was an error in coding and the wrong ad went to air". She would not specify why Nine cancelled it but said the station would charge GetUp only for the ads that had aired.
Fairfax Media rejected the video as a paid advertisement for its Age and Sydney Morning Herald websites but confirmed it had no issue with showing it in a news story.
Darren Goodsir, editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald, said: "I felt that The Sydney Morning Herald should continue to focus on its own independent editorial attributes rather than take money from a lobby group to attack another news publisher.
"I think we are better off promoting our own values during this election campaign: that Fairfax is the home for independent and balanced political journalism."
GetUp's national director Sam McLean is now calling on the group's members to phone and email the television stations in protest.
"This is censorship, pure and simple," he said. "Channel Seven says it's about taste but I don't buy that for a second. Channel Ten told us they don't want to criticise another media network – but this is about Rupert's son Lachlan being [chairman] of Channel Ten. And Channel Nine's response about the coding error is interesting but the real question is why they're refusing to play the ad, which they're not answering."
Last year, all three networks banned a GetUp ad that criticised the gambling interests of major sponsors Coles and Woolworths.
In February, independent senator Nick Xenophon proposed a law to prevent TV stations rejecting political advertisements they don't like.