Campaigning against Poverty Is Too Political for TV Watchdog

By Ciar Byrne Media Correspondent | The Independent (London, England), September 13, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Campaigning against Poverty Is Too Political for TV Watchdog


Ciar Byrne Media Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)


An advert for the Make Poverty History campaign featuring celebrities including Brad Pitt, Kate Moss and Colin Firth clicking their fingers to make the point that a child dies every three seconds, has been banned by Ofcom for breaching rules on political advertising.

The media watchdog said the anti-poverty campaign could no longer run appeals on television and radio because its goals were mainly political.

Members of the coalition of about 300 charities, who aim to to eliminate world poverty, criticised Ofcom's decision, insisting it was 'the great moral issue of our time' and not 'a narrow party- political issue'. Insiders said that on a personal level, many members of Ofcom were supportive of the campaign, but the watchdog insisted the law was drafted to ensure that it 'cannot differentiate between what some may describe as 'good politics' and 'bad politics' '.

By law, political advertising, or advertising by bodies that have political aims, is banned from television or radio.

The Make Poverty History (MPH) advert, which featured celebrities saying 'somebody dies avoidably through poverty every three seconds' was shown on a number of channels including ITV, Channel 4 and channel Five over the Christmas period and on 31 March. Viewers and listeners were also directed to the Make Poverty History website. The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, which decides what is suitable for transmission on television, cleared the advert because it considered that Make Poverty History's activities were mainly charitable in nature. Its radio counterpart said it believed the campaign's aims were 'awareness-raising rather than political'.

Broadcasters also said that they thought Make Poverty History was a charitable appeal, adding that even though it did not raise money, the campaign was appealing for viewers' attention.

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