Crikey reported on Wednesday on the difficulties a pro-choice television commercial – you can watch it here – has had getting to air. Commercial networks rejected it, and SBS shuffled it round its scheduling.

And a report in The Sydney Morning Herald caught our eye: “Channel Seven and SBS have refused to air an ad campaign condemning the prime minister, John Howard, for ‘stealing’ billions of dollars of East Timorese oil and gas revenues,” it read, “a stance that may trigger court action and highlights the thorny issue of freedom of expression.

The boycott has echoes of a similar action by Channel Nine in the late 1990s when it refused to air a commercial made and paid for by anti-advertising group Adbusters that encouraged Australians to take part in a global ‘Buy Nothing Day’.

This time, however, Channel Nine has agreed to run the Timor ad, made by businessman Paul Melrose… Melrose and the pressure group with which he is aligned, the Timor Sea Justice Campaign, are considering taking Seven and SBS to court, saying their refusal to run the ad constitutes a breach of equal opportunity legislation.

The submission of scripts for the next TV commercial today will be the litmus test, the Herald report says, quoting campaign director Tom Clarke: “If future ads are also banned or delayed, we will take legal action against the networks for discrimination on the basis of political belief or activity”.

The full story is at here . Suddenly there are more interesting issues in advertising than just what the creative director’s been snorting.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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