After outcry, Disney will allow political ads on Hulu

Starting Wednesday, Hulu will now allow ads about political issues and candidate ads on its streaming service after its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, reviewed and reassessed its advertising policies.

The move comes after the streaming service received backlash earlier this week after a report said it rejected ads from Democratic organizations on topics including abortion, gun control and climate change.


What do you want to know

  • The Walt Disney Company said Wednesday that Hulu will now allow ads about political issues and candidate ads on its streaming service.
  • “After an extensive review of advertising policies on its linear networks and streaming platforms over the past few months, Disney is now aligning Hulu’s political advertising policies to be consistent with Hulu’s cable entertainment and sports networks. the company and ESPN+,” said The Walt The Disney Company said
  • The company added that it “reserves the right to request modifications or alternative designs, consistent with industry standards.”
  • The move comes after the streaming service received backlash earlier this week after a report said it rejected ads from Democratic organizations on topics including abortion, gun control and climate change.

The news was first reported by Axios.

In a statement sent to Spectrum News on Wednesday, Disney said that “after an extensive review of advertising policies on its linear networks and streaming platforms over the past few months, Disney is now aligning Hulu’s political advertising policies so that they are consistent with the general entertainment of society. and cable sports networks and ESPN+.”

However, the company said it still has the right to request changes.

“Hulu will now accept applicants and post ads covering a wide range of political positions, but reserves the right to request edits or alternate creatives, consistent with industry standards,” the company added.

The controversy began on Monday when the Washington Post reported that on July 15, three Democratic Party committees – the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Democratic Governors Association ( DGA) – had attempted to buy joint ads. on abortion rights and gun control with Hulu.

Although accepted and appearing on Youtube, Roku, NBC, Facebook, and broadcast and cable TV, the ads were reportedly rejected by Hulu for “content-related” issues.

Unlike television networks, Hulu and other streaming services are not bound by the Communications Act of 1934 – a law that requires television networks to provide politicians with equal access to the airwaves. Streaming services control the ads they show.

The ambiguity of Hulu’s policies has sparked outrage online and from Democratic committees.

In a joint statement sent to Spectrum News a day before Disney changed its advertising policy, DSCC, DCCC and DGA executive directors Christie Roberts, Tim Persico and Noam Lee said “the censorship of truth by Hulu is outrageous”.

“Voters have a right to know the facts about MAGA’s Republican agenda on issues like abortion,” they said. “Hulu is doing the American people a great disservice by preventing voters from learning the truth about the GOP’s record or refusing to allow these issues to even be discussed.”

The committees called on Hulu to roll back its ads policy, indicating that it “prevents Americans from getting information about some of the most critical issues in this midterm election.”

In response to the outcry from Democratic committees, several Twitter users publicly announced they were canceling their Hulu subscriptions and encouraged others to do the same with the “#BoycottHulu” hashtag trending on Twitter Tuesday morning.

“I’m canceling Hulu today,” wrote Fred Guttenberg, a prominent gun safety activist whose daughter, Jamie, was killed in the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Musician April Smith urged her Twitter followers to “cancel your Hulu subscription until they get the message”, she wrote on Twitter. “You won’t miss The Handmaid’s Tale because we’re basically living the first season right now.”

Democratic committees weren’t the only ones to see ads rejected by Hulu in recent months. Earlier this month, Suraj Patel, Democratic candidate for Congress from New York, released a letter to Hulu, first reported by Jezebel, which revealed that the streaming service had demanded that his campaign remove at least one of the three “sensitive” issues – abortion, climate change or gun laws – from its digital campaign ads and replace it with a “non-sensitive” issue.

In the letter, Patel called on Hulu to stop the policy that required “censoring” a campaign ad before it could air.

“Failing to address these topics in my campaign announcement is failing to address the most important issues facing the United States,” Patel said in the letter. “We are at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our nation. How are voters supposed to make informed choices if their candidates can’t speak to the most important issues of the day? »

In May, it was reported that Hulu had rejected D-Ga. from Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, an ad mentioning her “pro-choice stance.” In a statement, Bourdeaux called on Hulu to “drop this dangerous and outrageous ban on pro-choice advertising.”

During the 2020 campaign cycle, Priorities USA Action and Color of Change PAC, two independent liberal groups, had ads rejected by Hulu, Google and Verizon that showed clips of police beating protesters during Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020.

“Hulu is one of the most impactful platforms for advertising to young voters,” wrote Democratic pollster and strategist Matt McDermott. on Twitter. “By blocking ads on issues like climate change and abortion, Hulu effectively prevents Democrats from engaging a wide range of voters on the most critical issues facing our country.”

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