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Politics

Feb 27, 2006

Solar power ad rejected for being "problematic"

Crikey reporter Sophie Black writes:The people behind renewable energy company SolarShop were overjoyed when high profile scientist Dr Tim Flannery agreed to ap

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Crikey reporter Sophie Black writes:

The people behind renewable energy company SolarShop
were overjoyed when high profile scientist Dr Tim Flannery agreed to
appear in their latest TV commercial. That is, until Commercials Advice (CAD), the company in charge of classification and approval of ad content on
behalf of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Broadcasters, made the unusual move of rejecting the
commercial after initially approving it. SolarShop,
a South Australian company, now suspects CAD of bowing to
political interference after they were told that the rejection was
based on Flannery’s statement, “Climate Change is the greatest threat
facing humanity today.”

SolarShop managing director
Adrian Ferraretto began to suspect something “very fishy” after the
ad was initially approved last Wednesday afternoon, 48 hours after
SolarShop sent the commercial for approval. It wasn’t until mid afternoon on the following
Friday that CAD informed SolarShop that they’d changed their minds. “To have it approved…and then
disapproved on Friday, when the ads were due to go to air
on
Sunday
morning seems very suspicious, and highly unusual,” Ferraretto told Crikey.

CAD
notified SolarShop of their new decision less than 48 hours before the advertisement featuring Flannery was due
to debut during Sunday
on Channel Nine. Flannery’s statement was also set to run as a
community service announcement supported by Channel Nine and SolarShop
but that was also rejected by CAD.

“We tried
to email, call them … but they weren’t taking our calls. We still
haven’t heard back
from them. Meanwhile we’ve spent $50,000 on a month’s worth of Adelaide
air time and we can’t run the ad. We had to rejig an old ad, without
Flannery, and run that instead.”

In the email sent to SolarShop on Friday,
Commercials Advice lawyer Jason Poulos wrote that Flannery’s initial
statement was “problematic”.

In order to preserve the accuracy of the advertisements, can you
please revisit this statement and consider using alternative wording as
description of the issue of climate change. Examples you might wish to consider
are “Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity today” or
“Climate change is an important issue for us all”.

“Flannery was very upset,” said Ferraretto. “We are too. It was such a
coup to get him on our ad, we were so excited, but now we can’t air it
and we’re not sure why.”

Ferraretto suspects that it was the announcer’s (not Flannery’s) statement at the end of the ad
– “Solar electricity from the SolarShop, Stepney: we’re DOING Kyoto
ANYWAY!” – that raised the ire of whoever rejected the ad.
Ferraretto says SolarShop are currently reviewing their legal options.

Crikey contacted CAD for a response but they didn’t get back to us before publication.

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