Thursday 23 November 2017

Political ads need to join 21st Century

The watchdog's rules were made for a pre-internet world, writes Kevin Rafter

During the 2007 General Election Fianna Fail pulled off a coup in getting Tony Blair and Bill Clinton to feature in its television political broadcast. Neither Blair nor Clinton actually uttered the words 'vote Fianna Fail'. Rather, the two men spoke glowingly about Bertie Ahern and, in particular, his role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The minor controversy of two international leaders featuring in an Irish election broadcast is about as exciting as these so-called Party Political Broadcasts (PPBs) get.

While most people like the idea of these broadcasts, they don't like watching them. A survey of public opinion on PPBs and the contentious issue of paid political advertising was included in a research report I published last year. When asked about the 2007 broadcasts, almost six in 10 adults could recall them. The same number agreed that the broadcasts were important regardless of whether or not they personally watched them. Some 20 per cent of the public said the broadcasts were 'informative' but 25 per cent thought they were 'boring'.

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