Blackout so last century

A blackout for election campaign advertising has been in force since the strike of midnight this past Wednesday - but you'd be hard pressed to know it.

A blackout for election campaign advertising has been in force since the strike of midnight this past Wednesday - but you'd be hard pressed to know it.

Though campaign material has ceased on television and radio, the broadcast regulations introduced in 1992 to ensure a "cooling off" period before heading to the polls don't apply online.

The persistence of party YouTube videos, websites and online banner ads have brought into question whether the ban, regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), provides any real reprieve from a pre-voting advertising slew.

Australian National University political advertising expert Andrew Hughes said without restricting online content, which includes video and audio, the blackout is of little significance.

"It would be ideal to extend the ban across all media, but online materials would be virtually impossible to police. If you can't do it properly, it would be better not to have it at all," Mr Hughes said.

He believes parties could easily evade an online ban using loopholes, such as moving website hosting offshore.

The blackout is increasingly irrelevant to minor parties, who are generally less likely to splash their cash on mainstream radio or television slots before the blackout hits.

An email sent to Greens supporters on Friday requesting donations for YouTube and Facebook ads confirmed where the final advertorial battle ground would be.

Greens national campaign director Chris Harris said the party had spent more on online advertising this election than they ever had before.

"We generally focus a much larger proportion of our advertising online than the two major parties, as our research shows that it's more effective for us, especially among younger voters," Mr Harris said.

Managing director of advertising monitoring company Ebiquity Richard Basil-Jones said initial figures show a spike in political banner ads across 100 major websites since the blackout began.

The three-day blackout is regulated by ACMA, following legislation in Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 - meaning only Parliament has the power to expand or abandon it.

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