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Commercial TV networks opt out of the campaign

February 22nd, 2014

A liberal think tank claims that commercial media decided not to run campaign ads both because this would eat up valuable slots, and because they are afraid of alienating their audience with unsavoury political messages.

The commercial media were originally barred from broadcasting campaign ads under the new regulations introduced by Fidesz, on the premise that they were too expensive and therefore unfair to smaller parties. (See BudaPost November 12, 2012.) The public media were – and still are – required to accept campaign ads, free of charge. Heeding the criticism of the European Union, Parliament allowed commercial media outlets to run campaign ads for free if they choose to do so.

Policy Agenda discovered that so-called linear electronic media providers (the term refers to television and radio channels) have decided not to run campaign spots. One reason to keep out of the campaign is obviously lost revenue due to the provision that all contenders should have free slots to air their campaign messages. Another reason, Policy Agenda suspects, is the danger that such spots may contain offensive material. As media outlets cannot reject spots even if they are covertly (but not openly) racist, decision makers want to play it safe and stay away from the campaign. The importance of such considerations, the analysts claim, is revealed by the fact that they do not offer online ads either, even though regulations would allow them to charge for online advertising.

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