A General Election might well be two years away but the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) are already thinking about its revenue potential. The commercial radio industry claims that it loses more than €1 million in an election year because it is not allowed to run political advertising and the IBI has now threatened legal action unless the Government moves to amend the ban.
IBI chairman Willie O’Reilly says that the internet has changed the model for election campaigning and that this undermines the logic of banning political adverts on radio and TV. If these adverts can appear on the websites for radio stations, why can’t they be carried on the radio? In an article in the Sunday Business Post, O’Reilly argued that political advertising on TV and radio could boost public interest in voting and ultimately increase voter turnout.
He said he fully accepted that regulation was essential. In countries where advertising was allowed, limits were normally placed on the kind of adverts broadcast and the amount permissible for any particular party. O’Reilly said there was a strong case to be made at European level against the Irish position as a contravention of freedom of expression.

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