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Hulu Controversy: Democrats Slam Hulu For Turning Down Political Issue Ads On Guns And Abortion

Three prominent Democratic committee chairmen criticized Hulu for its decision to remove ads related to abortion and weapons, accusing it of “censoring the truth.”

The ads – here and here — were rejected, with Hulu citing a long-standing policy to disapprove of ads that deal with divisive topics. According to its rules, “material that takes a position on a contentious matter of public concern (such as social issues) is prohibited.”

The executive directors of the Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement first published by the Washington Post that “Hulu’s censorship of the truth is outrageous, offensive, and another step down a dangerous path for our country.

Voters have a right to know the truth about the MAGA Republicans’ positions on subjects like abortion, and Hulu is doing a great disservice to the American people by keeping them in the dark about the GOP’s track record or by preventing these topics from even being brought up.

The corporation was urged to change the policy by the three committees. The DGA has not heard anything from Hulu, and “they still have our money,” according to a spokesman for the organization on Tuesday.

Hulu and its parent firm, The Walt Disney Co., have not responded, but a person with knowledge of the matter referenced the streamer’s policy and noted that it applied to other contentious issues besides abortion and weapons.

No election cycle goes by without politicians and campaigns taking advantage of a publication’s decision to reject one of their commercials, which invariably draws additional attention to the offending spots.

However, given that streamers are granted greater latitude to reject such spots than broadcasters, who are constrained by FCC standards established by federal law, Hulu’s rejection of the spots underscores the growing interest in streamers’ policy regarding political advertisements. (Stations have some discretion when it comes to issue ads, but are essentially required to show advertisements from candidates.)

As more campaigns turn to streaming platforms to reach voters, especially younger ones, the ban on such topical advertising spots is likely to become an even bigger problem. Platforms, however, have various rules.

Pluto TV, a non-subscription service available in the Washington, D.C., area, is flooded with issue advertisements, many of which come from organizations that are lobbying politicians on behalf of contentious legislation.

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Political and contentious issues are among the categories of advertisements that must be reviewed by NBCUniversal at least 72 hours before streaming, according to the subscription platform Peacock.

According to Hulu’s policy, some political advertisements will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Suraj Patel, a candidate for Congress in New York, fell victim to this. After submitting an advertisement that discussed abortion, guns, and climate change, he protested.

He wrote to Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Hulu president Joe Earley in a letter that he shared with the website Jezebel, alleging that a Hulu representative had called his campaign and explained that there was a “unwritten policy” to not include topics that were deemed to be too “sensitive.” He mentioned that the spot was approved by cable and TV networks.

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In addition, he stated that “your network is a key source for information and entertainment for many viewers in the country” due to the decline in cable subscriptions. Patel later revealed to the Washington Post that the ad was modified by his campaign, with footage of the attack on the U.S. Capitol replaced with a picture of Donald Trump and the words “democracy” in place of “climate change.” But afterwards, Hulu got in touch with his campaign to let him know the original ad would be approved, as reported by the Post.

According to the source, Hulu assesses how they screen candidate commercials, giving candidates more latitude to defend their ideas. These do reserve the right to request adjustments, despite the fact that they are not made public.

Disney ran into political trouble earlier this year because of a Florida law that prohibited K–3 instructors from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. This legislation was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its opponents. When the business decided to oppose the bill after initially declining to do so, the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, spearheaded an initiative to revoke Disney’s special district status at its Florida theme parks.

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