An Australian group called GetUp ("an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation which aims to build a more progressive Australia") is making a big stink about Australia's three leading TV networks refusing to air its anti-Murdoch/anti-News Corp. ad. Scroll down below for more context.
GetUp claims on its website that,
This election campaign, News Corp has used the front pages of its tabloids to launch aggressive political campaigns against one side of politics, while failing to scrutinise the other. That's why we created this ad. We want to call News Corp's campaign out for what it it: biased crap. We want to show there is a movement of Australians who aren't going to stand idly by while one man tries to tell an entire nation how to vote.
The one man in question being, of course, Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman at News Corp. GetUp raised funds -- hundreds of thousands of dollars, it says -- to make a "massive ad buy" on Australia's major TV networks. But, the group laments, "not everyone is as keen to stand up to a billionaire media mogul as we are." GetUp claims that "all three of Australia's major commercial networks [are] banding together to suppress media criticism. What's more, it's happening in an election period where Australians ought to have the freedom to express their opinions and to criticise and speak truth to power." Specifically, according to GetUp:
Channel 10 said outright on the phone that they wouldn't run the ad because it criticises another media outlet. Lachlan Murdoch is on the company's board. We're sure the two are totally unrelated. Channel 7 refused the ad because "the creative execution was considered distasteful and potentially offensive to our audience, so we have decided to make a stand." So noble. We created a new version of the ad with the 'offensive' bits blurred out. They didn't respond. Channel 9 at least approved the ad, and ran it for four days.... On Monday, they pulled the ad, and blamed it on a "coding error," saying it never should have run. Whoopsadaisey.
GetUp says it has lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Meanwhile, within the past 24 hours, non-Murdoch-owned Australian media, including Fairfax Media's The Age, have covered the controversy, undoubtably giving the GetUp spot a huge (free) boost in viewership via YouTube. The Age contacted the three networks in question and reported,
A Seven spokesman told Fairfax Media: "We can choose whether to run a television commercial or accept a booking. We chose not to." Network Ten has refused to comment but is aware of the complaint made against them. A Nine spokeswoman said the ad "was never supposed to run ... there was an error in coding and the wrong ad went to air". She would not specify why Nine cancelled it but said the station would charge GetUp only for the ads that had aired.
The most amusing part of the ad -- other than the shot of a bathrobe-wearing newspaper reader using a copy of News Corp.'s Courier-Mail to scoop dog poop off his lawn (presumably this is the "distasteful" bit Channel 7 objected to) -- may be when Rupert Murdoch, one of the most famous Australians on the planet, is referred to as a "U.S. billionaire." (Which is technically true: Murdoch became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985 -- in the process losing his Australian citizenship -- as he sought to expand his Australian-born media empire in the U.S., where FCC rules limit foreign ownership of U.S. television stations.)
At least GetUp didn't bring up Wendi.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.
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