The Victorian Liberal Party has found a sympathetic ear at the ABC in its objections to one of the Labor Party’s first ads in the state election campaign.

As The Australian reports this morning:

The ABC has accused Labor of failing to get permission to air a quote from Mr Baillieu taken from a Stateline interview in the first of the party’s campaign ads.

But the ALP was sticking to its guns last night over the advertisement, which points out that Mr Baillieu was Liberal Party president during heavy cuts to public services in Victoria, and ends with a quote from him saying: “I think the Liberal party’s record is second to none.”

While not a message designed to make the Libs feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it’s hardly outside the rules of engagement for election campaigns … or is it? The ABC told Crikey its objection relates to section 5.6.6 of the current editorial guidelines:

Extra care must be taken in deciding whether to release program material to a third party for advertising purposes if it contains vision and/or sound of an identifiable person. If the material is intended for use in political party advertisements or in a way that implies the individual endorses a product or particular viewpoint, the material will only be released if the third party has obtained permission of the person concerned.

Crikey asked if the only objection was on the grounds that Mr Baillieu’s permission was not sought, but didn’t receive a response prior to publication.

Tony Watson, partner at Middletons, told Crikey that an objection from the ABC might also be upheld in court. “Channel Nine recently got an injunction against The Panel on the basis it was infringing of copyright, after The Panel took bits of programs and screened them for satirical purposes.”

“The filming of Ted Baillieu is copyright. The ABC has the sole and exclusive right to reproduce it unless it fits certain exemptions. The ALP might be hanging its hat on the exemption surrounding the reporting of the news, but it appears to me they are using it for political purposes, which doesn’t fit that exemption. The fair-dealing guidelines are for the purposes of criticism and review, but this has been used for advertising purposes, so that could be an infringement of copyright.”

What does the ALP have to say? A spokesman told Crikey: “The ALP will not be withdrawing the ad or the message. The ABC has written to the ALP and the ALP is considering their concerns and the ALP will respond in due course.”