Senate reverses tax-backed political ads on TV and radio | Facebook braces for election
The Australian Senate has voted to reverse the Coalition Government’s electoral allowance bill – disallowing MP’s from using taxpayer dollars on TV and radio political advertising.
In February, the Morrison Government passed new regulations allowing members of parliament to spend their annual $137,000 office budgets on TV and radio advertising.
With the Federal Election looming, this reversal has eliminated an estimated $22 million of combined budgets from being spent on the channels, according to reports.
The Senate voted 34 to 28 yesterday in favour of Labor’s proposal to reverse the Coalition’s unprecedented change to Australian political advertising laws.
The original change was introduced by the Special Minister of State, The Hon Alex Hawke MP – with industry bodies for both TV and radio coming out in support.
According to FreeTV CEO Bridget Fair, Australia’s “antiquated legislation” preventing MP’s from spending tax-backed budgets on TV and radio advertising are discriminatory.
“It is outrageous that public money can be spent on foreign multinational social media platforms that do not even comply with Australian Electoral Commission rules around election advertising,” says Fair, “but cannot be spent on trusted Australian media outlets like commercial free-to-air TV, particularly in regional areas. “
Also commenting on the original change, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) CEO Joan Warner echoed a similar sentiment, “This is just one of a number of old rules that, until now, hadn’t kept pace with the current media landscape and that explicitly discriminated against local radio stations.”
Unfortunately for radio and TV networks, traditional broadcasters will have to deal with the ‘antiquated’ perspectives on publicly-funded advertising for a while longer – the upcoming election at the very least.
Facebook braces for election, banning foreign electoral ads
Coming into effect the day after the Federal Election is announced, Facebook will ban electoral ads purchased from outside Australia and introduce third-party fact checking in partnership with the international news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“Combating foreign interference is a key pillar of our approach to safeguarding elections on our platform,” writes Mia Garlick, ANZ director of policy for Facebook in a newsroom post.
“Through this work, we want to make it harder to interfere with elections on the platform, and easier for people to make their voices legitimately heard in the political process.”
In addition, Facebook says it will be introducing improved methods for identifying and blocking fake accounts.
“Fake accounts are often behind harmful and misleading content and we work hard to keep them off Facebook,” writes Garlick.
According to Garlick, Facebook blocks ‘millions’ of fake accounts at registration on a daily basis; and between April and September 2018 Facebook took action on more than 1.5 billion accounts.
As part of the new action also, Facebook says it now has more than 30,000 individuals working on safety and security across the platform – three times more than 2017. Particularly during the election, Facebook’s security teams will be tackling “inauthentic behaviour and abuse on our platform from misinformation, misrepresentation and foreign interference, to phishing, harassment and violent threats.”
Earlier in the year, Twitter announced similar precautions ahead of the Election, publicly displaying information including ad spend, demographic targeting data, and impressions data per tweet for political advertising. Read our full coverage here »