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A Court of Appeal decision made in 2016 allows private organisations and individuals to run election advertisements more freely than in the past.
The decision found that the Electoral Commission was unjustified to have prohibited the satirical “Planet Key” song from being broadcast before the 2014 election.
As a result of the decision, broadcast television and radio ‘attack ads’ — advertisements opposed to political parties — will have fewer restrictions than in previous years. Private individuals are now able to run advertisements that disparage politicians or political parties, previously confined to web and print mediums (e.g. the 2005 Iwi | Kiwi billboards), on television and the radio.
Leading electoral law expert Andrew Geddis stresses the significance of the decision. He believes advertisements will impact the election, stating, “the thing is, they work. People spend money on these ads because they do have an effect.”
Labour’s General Secretary Andrew Kirton said, “it’s great that freedom and satire are protected, but we don’t really want to see a return to the style of politics that we see overseas, where big money and a small number of individuals can influence the result.”
John Ansell, who has previously advertised for National campaigns, said the decision would mean that political parties lose their monopoly on broadcast advertising. Ansell favours the decision, saying everyone should be able to take the mickey out of parties. “Why not? It’s freedom of speech.”