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Old 09-12-2005, 09:44 PM   #1
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Make Poverty History Banned in the UK

Give me a freakin' break...


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'Make Poverty History' message banned in Britain

Mon Sep 12, 2:53 PM ET




LONDON (AFP) - The coalition at the forefront of a British campaign to fight poverty in Africa has been banned from advertising on radio and television after the nation's media watchdog decided it was a "political" organisation.

Make Poverty History, a coalition of more than 500 charities and social groups, said Monday it was "disappointed" by the decision from OFCOM, just days before world leaders gather in New York where the plight of the world's poor is on the agenda of the World Summit at UN headquarters.

Its advertisement -- in which the likes of rock star Bono and model Claudia Schiffer snap their fingers every three seconds, symbolising how often a child dies as a result of poverty somewhere in the world -- has been on the air for several months.

Despite the fact that no one lodged a complaint, OFCOM said Make Poverty History was "wholly or mainly political" in that it sought to "achieve important changes" to British and Western government policy.

For that reason, it said, the advertisement can no longer be aired.

Adrian Lovett of the development charity Oxfam, a member of the Make Poverty History coordination team, said the global poverty issue was not "party political", but seen by millions as "the great moral issue of our time".

"We're disappointed with this decision," he said. "This advertisement simply highlights the fact that a child dies every three seconds because of preventable poverty."

Make Poverty History was behind a large peaceful march in Edinburgh in July that called for robust action on aid, trade and debt from the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations to combat endemic poverty in Africa.
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Old 09-13-2005, 12:28 AM   #2
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Nothing political is allowed on UK television? At all? Automatically? What about campaign ads? Or are 20 second television spots of Tony Blair trashing the Opposition more important than dying African kids?

Yikes.

We have these ads on in Canada all the time. I see one at least once a day.

And we have Stephen Harper (aka George Bush North) on every day too tearing the Liberal government a new asshole, and an election hasn't even been called (it's still MONTHS away). Would this kind of ad be allowed in the UK?

This is an idiotic, super-PC decision. And nobody even lodged a complaint?

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Old 09-13-2005, 12:37 AM   #3
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This is not only disgusting but damn stupid. Believe me, we're not impressed... to put it mildly! I spent a lot of time shouting at the TV and am now looking to find a more constructive way of doing something about this nonsense.
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Old 09-13-2005, 01:10 AM   #4
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Ah don't we love having a full set of regulations to ensure that political advertisments stay off TV
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Old 09-13-2005, 01:54 AM   #5
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Censorship reminds me of another word that starts with a C......


but I'll just leave it at that.....
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Old 09-13-2005, 03:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC
Nothing political is allowed on UK television? At all? Automatically? What about campaign ads? Or are 20 second television spots of Tony Blair trashing the Opposition more important than dying African kids?
Political campaigning through the use of television or radio advertising is prohibited in the UK, so no we don't get any 20 second spots of Blair trashing Howard. I actually think that prohibiting political advertisements on TV is a good decision, if only because it ensures that elections aren't won and lost according to how much money the candidates have. (Of course all the additional election funding legislation also contributes to this.)

Ofcom (the media regulator) isn't trying to label or define the politics of Make Poverty History, it's job is only to determine whether an organisation is political and thus shouldn't be permitted to advertise on television. I think it's beyond doubt that MPH is a political organisation -- it's campaigning (albeit ineffectively right now) to effect a change in government policy and attempting to influence the political process. I think it's unfortunate that their ads have been prohibited, but at the same time I'm not sure I'd want Ofcom to make an exception just because I happen to agree with the political group in question.

The whole question of whether MPH is a political organisation is an interesting one. Personally I think there needs to be more recognition of the fact that the goals of MPH are inherently political. Ending debt, providing aid, enabling trade aren't simply some fluffy goals which everyone can unite around -- they're controversial and there are plenty who oppose them. By pretending they're "non-political" we make it easier for politicians to pretend they've acceded to our demands when in actual fact they haven't.
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Old 09-13-2005, 03:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by For Honor
Censorship reminds me of another word that starts with a C......


but I'll just leave it at that.....
So you think making winning an election dependent on having millions of dollars available for TV advertisements is preferable? After all -- that's what happens when political advertisements on TV are permitted. I think having no political advertising is preferable to a situation in which people can only be elected if they have a huge amount of money at their disposal, I wouldn't choose to live in a society where people partly buy their way into political office.
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:32 AM   #8
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Here is what you can do:

email Chancellor Gordon Brown at

ministers@hm-treasury.gsi.gov.uk

or Prome Minister Tony Blair at this webpage (simply choose the heading that you want to put the letter under, fill in your message and hit the send button).

http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/page821.asp

and to reach the office of the British government that made this decision, email them here.

contact@ofcom.gov.uk


Thank you for helping the world's poorest people.

As Bono has always said, the world is more malleable than we think.

Our mission is still possible!

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Old 09-13-2005, 05:51 AM   #9
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:55 AM   #10
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wow that is really scary when you think about it. The British government is controlling access to political views. That means that the people of the UK are not being presented all their options. Sounds like something bordering on a Orwell novel.
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Old 09-13-2005, 08:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees


Political campaigning through the use of television or radio advertising is prohibited in the UK, so no we don't get any 20 second spots of Blair trashing Howard. I actually think that prohibiting political advertisements on TV is a good decision, if only because it ensures that elections aren't won and lost according to how much money the candidates have. (Of course all the additional election funding legislation also contributes to this.)

Ofcom (the media regulator) isn't trying to label or define the politics of Make Poverty History, it's job is only to determine whether an organisation is political and thus shouldn't be permitted to advertise on television. I think it's beyond doubt that MPH is a political organisation -- it's campaigning (albeit ineffectively right now) to effect a change in government policy and attempting to influence the political process. I think it's unfortunate that their ads have been prohibited, but at the same time I'm not sure I'd want Ofcom to make an exception just because I happen to agree with the political group in question.

The whole question of whether MPH is a political organisation is an interesting one. Personally I think there needs to be more recognition of the fact that the goals of MPH are inherently political. Ending debt, providing aid, enabling trade aren't simply some fluffy goals which everyone can unite around -- they're controversial and there are plenty who oppose them. By pretending they're "non-political" we make it easier for politicians to pretend they've acceded to our demands when in actual fact they haven't.
Thank you for the background on the Ofcom. If you think about it, MPH was specifically not a charity in that they did not seek money for a charitable goal. They only wanted our voices, which if used to influence government, is inherently political in nature.
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Old 09-13-2005, 12:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by LoveTown
wow that is really scary when you think about it. The British government is controlling access to political views. That means that the people of the UK are not being presented all their options. Sounds like something bordering on a Orwell novel.
If only a limited number of political views could be advertised on television you might have a point, but since the prohibition on political advertising on tv applies to all political organisations regardless of ideology it's inaccurate to claim people are "not being presented all their options." No options are presented through the medium of tv advertising but plenty are presented through current affairs programmes on both tv and radio, through reporting and commentary in newspapers and periodicals and through various campaign and publicity events held by political organisations.
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Old 09-13-2005, 12:57 PM   #13
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How does that work with party political broadcasts at election time in the UK though? How come they are allowed but the MPH campaign is not?
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Old 09-13-2005, 01:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tilli
How does that work with party political broadcasts at election time in the UK though? How come they are allowed but the MPH campaign is not?
Party election broadcasts (and party political broadcasts which are shown at various times of year, not only near an election) aren't really the same as advertisements. At election time each political party (although they do have to pass a sort of qualifying test in terms of the number of candidates they are standing nationwide -- I can find more specific information about that if anyone is interested) is given a specific number of election broadcasts which are around three to five minutes long and are broadcast on various TV channels.

MPH wouldn't at the moment qualify for either a party election broadcast or party political broadcast, chiefly because they're not a political party. If they were to form themselves into a political party and stand the required number of candidates at the next general election then they would be granted a party election broadcast on the same grounds as any other political party.

Really there's no comparison between PEBs/PPBs and advertising -- parties don't pay for their PEB/PPB to be broadcast and PEBs/PPBs are only available to recognised political parties who fulfil certain requirements (again, I can find the exact details if anyone cares), whereas advertising slots on tv are paid for and political parties aren't permitted to use them.
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Old 09-13-2005, 01:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tilli
How does that work with party political broadcasts at election time in the UK though? How come they are allowed but the MPH campaign is not?
Party Political Broadcasts are very limited in terms of when they are broadcast - specific to elections, and elections only, thus don't intend to influence viewers over a prolonged period of time. I guess they're also considered to be traditional, to an extent. Ofcom is very strict about the length and content of them - there are alot of restrictions in place. I think Ofcom has a document on it, which makes quite interesting reading.
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Old 09-13-2005, 01:54 PM   #16
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Thanks for the reply Fizzing Whizzbees. I have to admit that I am fairly ignorant about advertsing political positions on TV. I agree that Ofcom should apply the rules to everyone and that exceptions should not be made on account of one political message seemingly being more deserving than another.

Wasn't this also the case with the BBC coverage of Live 8? There was one point where Chris Martin was speaking and the cameras cut away from what he was saying. I assume this was for the same reason.
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Old 09-13-2005, 02:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tilli
Wasn't this also the case with the BBC coverage of Live 8? There was one point where Chris Martin was speaking and the cameras cut away from what he was saying. I assume this was for the same reason.
I don't remember that specific incident so I could be wrong, but I don't think the BBC would have cut away because he made a political statement. There are plenty of programmes which make political statements -- Ofcom don't prohibit the making of political statements on television, they just don't permit political parties to pay for an advertising slot. There are all sorts of additional regulations which I'm not that familiar with, but I believe involve things like requiring news or current affairs programmes to offer equal time to the government and opposition, or prohibiting parties from soliciting donations on television. So, I don't think the BBC would have avoided broadcasting Chris Martin's political comments, but I guess that could have been the case. I don't know -- anyone else better informed than me?
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Old 09-13-2005, 02:10 PM   #18
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Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees


I don't remember that specific incident so I could be wrong, but I don't think the BBC would have cut away because he made a political statement. There are plenty of programmes which make political statements -- Ofcom don't prohibit the making of political statements on television, they just don't permit political parties to pay for an advertising slot. There are all sorts of additional regulations which I'm not that familiar with, but I believe involve things like requiring news or current affairs programmes to offer equal time to the government and opposition, or prohibiting parties from soliciting donations on television. So, I don't think the BBC would have avoided broadcasting Chris Martin's political comments, but I guess that could have been the case. I don't know -- anyone else better informed than me?
Chris Martin made some reference to it himself before he started to speak -something like if the BBC cut away from what I am about to say then it is wrong of them.... At least I am pretty sure he did.
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Old 09-13-2005, 02:18 PM   #19
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Thanks for the explanation Fizz. I don't like the role money plays in politics, so this makes sense.
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Old 09-13-2005, 02:28 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tilli


Chris Martin made some reference to it himself before he started to speak -something like if the BBC cut away from what I am about to say then it is wrong of them.... At least I am pretty sure he did.
I just did a quick google search and found this

Quote:
Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay
It’s probably the most important film you will see today (introducing a film about Africa). Just watch it. And if the BBC don’t show it they aren’t doing their job properly (The BBC coverage returned to the studio)
From the Times
I'm not sure what the film in question was but I doubt it was a case of BBC censorship since anyone who watched the live coverage will remember that a lot of the broadcast (mostly the time in between performers when films and such were shown to entertain the live crowd) was taken up by the presenters in their studio providing commentary or interviewing participants. It might well have been a bad decision and was probaby based on the BBC's desire to provide an entertaining broadcast, but I don't think it would have anything to do with the regulations we've discussed in this thread regarding political advertisements.
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