Animal group challenges Govt over political ad ban

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is taking the Government to court over the ban on political advertising in broadcast media.

The move follows this month's publication of the Animal Welfare Bill.
The case revolves around an ADI-commissioned TV ad depicting a child in a cage. The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre found the ad to fall foul of rules on political messages, as set out in the Communications Act 2003. The regulatory board subsequently refused to clear it for broadcast.

ADI chief executive Jan Creamer said the issue was about free speech, for which there was 'no justification in prohibiting'. The charity has hired civil liberties law firm Bindman & Partners to challenge the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which has ultimate responsibility for the Communications  Act.

Bindman & Partners partner Tamsin Allen said the law firm would argue that the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right to freedom of expression. She said the ban on political advertising meant campaigning organisations with no connection to a political party could not use broadcast media to raise money or highlight their cause.

A spokeswoman for the DCMS told PRWeek: 'The only fair approach is for all broadcast political advertising to be banned.'
She added that ministers would 'vigorously defend' the legality of the broadcast ban against any challenge.

Although no date has been fixed for the hearing, ADI is confident it will be early next year, giving further momentum to its campaign supporting the Animal Welfare Bill.

In 2001, an RSPCA TV ad highlighting the plight of broiler chickens was pulled. Earlier this year, the Make Poverty History campaign had to remove its 'click ad' – featuring celebrities clicking their fingers – after Ofcom ruled its content contained a political message.

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