As the Constitutional Convention is currently considering how Bunreacht na hÉireann might be reformed, Amnesty Ireland have launched a campaign around a ‘TV’ ad designed to lobby for Economic, Social and Cultural rights to be guaranteed in the Constitution.
All part of a healthy political debate, one might say. Except that there are laws regulating Irish media. And under the Broadcasting Act 2009, a broadcaster “may not broadcast an advertisement which is directed towards a political end“.
Legislation such as this is common in many countries, with the US being a notable exception. In principle, the idea is to keep political debate from being swayed by those with the most money to spend. But how effective is that in an age when online media now rivals the power of traditional broadcasting? And when online and social media no longer has the high cost barriers to entry of traditional media, is such regulation still justfied or desired?
Of course Amnesty Ireland are shrewd campaigners. They knew before the ad was produced that it would never be allowed on TV, and they’re OK with that. Because it was not designed for TV. It was designed for online, and if they can whip up a little indignation over the broadcasting restrictions to help it go viral, then so much the better!
Of course it’s a variation of the tactics employed by companies such as GoDaddy in recent years. You’ve got to see this ad that was BANNED ON TV!
So what do you think? Regardless of your views on the political message, do you think we should continue to regulate media like this, in these digital days?