Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Britain's Court of Appeal: Christian Radio Ad Barred By Ban On Political Advertising

Britain's Communications Act 2003 prohibits the broadcasting of any "advertisement which is directed towards a political end."  In London Christian Radio Ltd. v Radio Advertising Clearance Centre, (Ct. App., Nov. 19, 2013), the England & Wales Court of Appeal in a 2-1 decision held that a proposed ad from a publisher of Christian magazines that was to be run on a Christian radio station violates this ban.  The proposed ad stated:
We are CCP. Surveys have shown that over 60% of active Christians consider that Christians are being increasingly marginalised in the work place. We are concerned to get the most accurate data to inform the public debate. We will then use this data to help make a fairer society. Please visit and report your experiences.
In upholding the decision of the Radio Advertising Clearance Center to bar the ad, Lord Justice Dyson said in part:
What matters is the effect of an advertisement on political debate. The question is whether it will frustrate the statutory aim of ensuring that, so far as practicable, the playing field of political debate is level....
Lord Justice Elias dissenting said in part:
The only issue is whether, considered objectively and by focusing solely on the advertisement, the listener is being subjected to a partial political message.... The fact that the purpose is to enable the advertiser in future to seek to exert such influence and operate as a more effective pressure group does not in my judgment amount to an infringement of [the statute].
Huffington Post UK reports on the decision.