Political Advertising: public service media call for more accuracy
Photo Christin Hume / Unsplash
The EBU supports the objectives of the upcoming Regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising. The public needs to understand on whose behalf political advertisements are being displayed, both online and offline. The massive expansion in the digital sphere of political campaigns requires new rules to create a level playing field between the online and offline world when it comes to the transparency of political advertising. Ensuring the source and purpose of advertising and having an appropriate framework for targeting and amplification techniques are both key challenges for democracies.
With the upcoming Regulation, the EBU and its Members have identified areas of concern. These are concerned with the accuracy of the definitions and the consideration of the specificities of the different media for the transparency requirements. The broad terms in those fields could lead to issues for the media sector. Specifically, our concerns are:
Editorial content without remuneration should not be considered as political advertising
Having a clear definition of how to identify political advertising is key to getting a right-on-target regulation. In this regard, political advertising should be characterized as a message published by, for, or on behalf of a political actor or as a message intended to influence elections or voting behavior in favor of a political actor, against direct payment or equivalent remuneration. These types of content should not be confused with political reporting which aims to enable voters to make an informed choice. Also, the fundamental difference between political advertising and editorial content should be reflected in the regulation by a clear protections for media freedom. In the same way, it is essential that such protections include both audio and audiovisual programmes as both media are broadcasting editorial content.
Transparency requirements should fit with the radio and tv media
Informing the citizens of who is ultimately behind political advertising will be one of the major breakthroughs of this regulation. Nevertheless, these transparency requirements should take into account the specificity of the radio and television media. It would be difficult for these traditional media, to disclose within an ad the information foreseen in article 7(1) (a statement, contact details and transparency notice location) and 7(2) (transparency notice) without relying on specific technical means. Therefore, we think that having a clear language which would allow the use of QR codes or URL, would make this regulation more efficient and less burdensome compliance for traditional media.