Disney announces that Hulu will still permit political issue advertisements after Democrats criticized the policy
Disney revealed on Wednesday that Hulu would indeed allow political advertising.
This week, Hulu made news for rejecting political advertisements from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Democratic Governors Association regarding abortion and gun control. Disney is now changing its mind, though.
Disney is now aligning Hulu’s political advertising policies to be consistent with the Company’s general entertainment and sports cable networks and ESPN+, the company said in a statement. This comes after a thorough review of ad policies across its linear networks and streaming platforms over the past few months. A “thorough examination” of the firm’s advertising practices led to the policy change, which was originally noted by Axios, according to Disney. Hulu has the right to seek modifications or alternative creatives industry standards, but it will now allow candidates and issue advertising spanning a wide range of policy perspectives. On July 15, according to The Washington Post, Democratic organizations tried to use Hulu to purchase advertisements with identical placements on an ABC affiliate in Philadelphia and ESPN that addressed subjects like abortion and gun control. The advertisements, however, obviously did not air on Hulu. In accordance with Hulu’s prior advertising guidelines, the firm promised to evaluate each political advertisement on an individual basis and “reserves the right to review, approve, reject, and refuse to display or remove any and all advertising, including based on the advertisements’ content. The decision to block the advertising was “outrageous, offensive, and another step down a perilous path for our society,” Democratic fundraising groups said in a statement on Monday after Hulu refused to air ads that focused on abortion and gun regulations. Suraj Patel, a candidate for the House of Representatives, also took issue with Hulu rejecting a political advertisement that referenced “abortion rights, gun laws, and climate change” and featured footage from January 6. He sent a letter to Disney arguing that failing to mention those issues “is to not address the most important issues facing the United States.” The Communications Act of 1934 forbids broadcast television networks from censoring political candidate advertisements and requires them to air advertisements from both parties. However, since digital platforms like Hulu are not governed by this law, they are free to censor advertisements as they see fit. A campaign source told Jezebel that Hulu had objected to Patel’s use of “sensitive” issues in his campaign ad. However, the candidate’s ad was later accepted after he changed “climate change” to “democracy” and got rid of the footage from January 6. Along with Patel, Georgia Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) also had an abortion-related advertisement taken down by Hulu in May. Every other network and platform carried the advertisements, but Hulu did not. According to the Democratic official, Hulu provided only a cursory explanation, claiming that the problem was “content related.” Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications for grassroots organization Emily’s List, stated on Twitter that the company was “picking the wrong side here by banning ads that talk about reproductive rights” as a result of the controversy surrounding the ad rejections, which prompted users to call for a boycott of the company and cancellation of their Hulu subscriptions. While Hulu will now include political adverts, neither political ads nor advertisements for alcohol or other streaming services will be permitted on Disney’s planned-and-supported tier. Notably, despite Democrats being the only party to advocate for the platform, it is assumed that the modified Hulu protocol will accept commercials from both sides of the political spectrum. The R-rated Marvel movies “Deadpool,” “Deadpool 2,” and “Logan ” were just introduced to Disney+, with a warning to users to change their parental control settings.
Disney has recently faced criticism on the left and from its own employees for declining to take a position on the Florida legislation known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The controversy over Hulu’s ad policy is the second instance of this in recent months. Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney, apparently wanted to keep his firm out of politics, but in March, Disney gave in to public pressure and officially opposed the law. That infuriated Republicans, and as a result, the Florida legislature and Republican governor Ron DeSantis (R) dissolved the Walt Disney World special tax district in April.