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Independent Broadcasters may consider legal challenge to ban on political advertising

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland has called for the removal on the ban on paid political advertising on radio and television saying that it was open to challenge in the European Courts.

The ban on paid political advertising applies not just to political parties and election candidates but also to organizations, such as trade unions, promoting issues which are considered to be of a political nature.

Addressing more than 100 delegates at the IBI’s third Annual Conference today, Mr. Willie O’Reilly, IBI Chairman said; “There is arguably a strong legal case at European level against Ireland’s current ban in the context of freedom of expression as laid down in the European Convention of Human Rights. The current law is outmoded and inappropriate and it is questionable as to whether it is robust enough to withstand a legal challenge in the European Court.

“The simple fact is that the internet has made the ban irrelevant. The Obama campaign was won online and all the party’s in the British election are committed to campaigning intensively online. It is ludicrous that a political party can advertise on a radio station’s website but cannot advertise on the radio itself. Moreover, we are seeing political parties in Ireland use the internet and sites such as you tube to upload professional video content that is to all intents and purposes political advertising. The arbitrary exclusion of some electronic media including radio, but not others, from paid political campaigning is nonsense and it is time for our laws to be brought up to date”.

Dr. Kevin Rafter, author of Political Advertising: The Regulatory Position & the Public View, agreed that the time had come to look again at the laws governing political broadcasting. “It is timely to examine whether political advertising should be allowed on television and radio, especially with the rise of these type of adverts on the web and also doubts about the legality of the current outright ban in Ireland”, he said.

Mr. O’Reilly said that, “I believe in regulation of broadcasting because I passionately believe in it as a very important public resource. I understand that limits may have to be imposed to ensure that no side can flood the airwaves and leave another stranded. But I do not understand, and I do not accept, that it is fair, or reasonable, or right that either audiences or broadcasters should be excluded from paid political broadcasts.

“What is acceptable in newspapers, and what is available online, should be allowed to air on radio and on television in a free and functioning media. If the government refuses to look at this issue seriously we may be left with no option but to take a challenge to the courts ourselves.”


About the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) is the representative body for Ireland’s independent commercial radio broadcasters. The mission of the IBI is to champion the agenda of independent broadcasters in Ireland and to be a distinct and coherent national voice in the ongoing campaign for competitive equality across the sector.

The independent voice of Ireland, 64.5% of the population tune into independent radio on a daily basis. This translates into weekday figures of 2.473 million listeners. With more than 1500 people employed in the sector, independent broadcasters make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the Irish economy. The IBI represents 2 national radio stations, 1 multicity radio station, 4 regional radio stations and 27 local radio stations. For more information please visit:

Further Information – Laurie Mannix, Managing Director, MKC Communications
Tel. +353 1 703 8620 / Mobile: + 353 86 8143710

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