Parties doubtful over TV advertising

This year's election campaign will be the first in which political parties will be able to spread their message via tv advertising. New broadcasting regulations, with no requirement for impartiality, make the change possible. But the parties themselves have their doubts.

“This is such a new development that we haven’t formulated our position yet,” said Lena Forsman, director of communications at the Centre party. The Centre party is currently in a very healthy financial state having sold off their newspaper business. It is considering new ways of getting their message across and tv advertising is a possibility.

“It’s hard to make a comparison – whether a tv advertisement, for example, would be more effective than a full page ad in Dagens Nyheter. We’re looking at the various channels’ target audiences, but so far the picture is rather confusing. We might have plenty of money at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we’re about to throw it away,” said Forsman.

Previously, broadcasting regulations forbade political advertising. The channels had to be impartial and no opinion-oriented advertising was allowed. The new regulations have been in force since 1st March and concern so-called ‘niche channels’.

“The path is clear for niche channels on the digital cable network to broadcast political advertisements”, said Eva Tetzell, deputy chairwoman of the broadcasting standards inspectorate (GRN), to TT.

No sooner was the ink dry on the new regulations than TV4 had launched two advertising packages aimed at the political parties. The price is 300,000 and 400,000 kronor for spots on TV4 plus, TV Fakta, TV 400 and TV4 Film. The old regulations still apply to the main TV4 channel. Aftonbladet/Axess and Kanal Lokal have also been quick off the mark to offer packages.

TV3 and Kanal 5 are two more channels where the new regulations don’t apply. In their case it’s because they broadcast from the United Kingdom, which bans such advertising.

“We’re in discussions with the parliamentary parties and naturally hope to get as many on board as possible,” said TV4’s director of communications, Göran Ellung.

However, TV4 isn’t interested in signing a contract with, for example, the extreme right wing Sverigedemokraterna.

“We reserve the right not to broadcast advertisements from parties which don’t accept that all people have equal worth,” said Ellung.

The Liberal party and Moderates are also mulling over the possibility of advertising on tv. But they are far from decided. Much depends on what other parties do.

The Moderates’ party secretary, Sven Otto Littorin, believes less and less in advertising as a means of getting across a political message. Tv advertising would have been interesting at one time, but there are many other methods available now.

“It wouldn’t have the same dramatic effect now,” he said.

The Social Democrats said that they have no plans to purchase tv advertising.

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