Disney changes Hulu policy on issue-based political ads

Walt Disney Co. has changed Hulu’s policy on accepting issue-based political ads after Democrats sparked a backlash after the streaming service rejected ads about abortion and guns.

Hulu had a long-standing policy against running ads that focused on controversial topics, though the company has run spots about individual candidates.

Disney said in a statement Wednesday that it has decided to expand Hulu’s advertising policies following “a thorough review of advertising policies across its linear networks and streaming platforms over the past several months.”

“Disney is now aligning Hulu’s advertising policies to align with the company’s broader entertainment and sports cable networks and ESPN+,” the company said. “Hulu will now accept candidates and serve ads covering a wide range of political positions, but reserves the right to request changes or alternative creatives in accordance with industry standards.”

The purpose of the stance against carrying out issue-related political messaging, according to a person close to the company, was “to minimize misinformation and protect the consumer experience.”

But the decision not to air the ads angered Democrats, who complained that Disney was censoring their views on key issues that happen to be core campaign issues for the upcoming election, particularly after the Supreme Court’s ouster of Roe vs. Wade.

“Hulus censorship of the truth is outrageous, offensive and another step on a dangerous path for our country,” the leaders of the Democratic Senate, the congressional campaign committees and the governors’ association said in a statement. “Voters have a right to know the facts about the MAGA Republican agenda on issues like abortion — and Hulu is doing the American people a great disservice by preventing voters from learning the truth about the GOP record, or refuses to allow these issues to be discussed at all. ”

Disney has been a hot potato for politicians, both liberal and conservative, in recent months.

First, Chief Executive Bob Chapek faced a staff revolt from LGBTQ employees for failing to first condemn Florida’s proposed parenting rights in education bill, known to critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Disney then drew the wrath of Republicans after the law passed by saying its goal was to repeal it, sparking a months-long campaign by social conservatives who accused Disney of forcing a “sexual agenda” on children.

Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to put Disney in the hot seat.

Disney’s decision doesn’t necessarily mean the ads in question will appear on Hulu immediately. The commercials can be resubmitted and would then go through the company’s review process, the person close to Disney said.

The Burbank-based entertainment giant has controlled Hulu since 2019 after completing its $71 billion acquisition of entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox.

Disney had already owned a stake in Hulu, and its acquisition of Fox gave it a controlling position. Comcast Corp. still owns a minority stake in Hulu, which now has 45 million subscribers and airs shows like “Dopesick” and “The Dropout.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-07-27/disney-changes-hulu-policy-to-accept-issue-based-political-ads-after-democratic-backlash-abortion Disney changes Hulu policy on issue-based political ads

Alley Einstein

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