After refusing to broadcast political ads on its platform, Hulu, the Disney-backed streaming service, is now facing opposition from Democrats.
As reported by The Washington Post, Democrats are furious after Hulu declined to show advertisements on key political topics such as abortion and gun laws.
The streaming service giant actually has a policy against running content deemed “controversial” and has mostly refrained from advertising anything blatantly political. Hulu is not bound by the Communications Act of 1934, which is a law that requires networks to provide politicians equal access.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, along with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Governors Association all attempted to purchase advertisements on the streaming platform which would have discussed abortion and guns.
“Hulu’s censorship of the truth is outrageous, offensive, and another step down a dangerous path for our country,” executive directors of the three committees, Christie Roberts, Tim Persico, and Noam Lee, said in a statement. “Voters have the right to know the facts about MAGA Republicans’ agenda on issues like abortion — and Hulu is doing a huge disservice to the American people by blocking voters from learning the truth about the GOP record or denying these issues from even being discussed.”
These weren’t the only outspoken voices from the left side of the political aisle. Suraj Patel, a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York City, posted a letter of protest issued to Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Hulu President Joe Earley, complaining that Hulu told his campaign there was an “unwritten Hulu policy” that deemed the topics in one of his ads too “sensitive” to broadcast.
The ad in question included mentions of hot-button topics like abortion, climate change, and gun violence.
Patel said, “To not discuss these topics in my campaign ad is to not address the most important issues facing the United States. Your ban on mobilization messaging has a perverse effect on Democracy.” Patel also said in an interview recently that the advertisement was allowed to run after he replaced the word “climate change” with “democracy” and replaced footage of the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot with footage of former President Donald Trump. As of the publication of this article, Patel has not received a response from Chapek or Earley.
“This policy has incredible implications for people nationwide, both voters and people running for office,” Patel said. “You need to communicate with younger voters on the mediums where they are watching. Cable is not where they are watching.”
In recent months, Hulu has reevaluated its policies on political ads to give candidates and public figures greater flexibility to explain their positions. “We do accept candidate ads that reference those topics,” said a spokesperson, “It needs to be in context.” Disney and Hulu declined through a spokesperson a request for comment on this topic. It is important to note that the blocked advertisements do not use any violent or disturbing imagery, just mentions of serious topics.
One ad lists statistics about gun violence and mass shootings, criticizing Republicans for their lack of effort in producing stricter gun laws. Another ad warns that Republicans are trying to take away access to abortion and not making any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
This is far from the first political snafu Disney, the operating controller of Hulu, has faced with multiple issues sprouting up just this year alone. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been pushing for the complete dissolution of Disney’s Reedy Creek District after the company took a “stance” on the state’s controversial Parental Rights Bill.
The Reedy Creek Improvement Act essentially allows Walt Disney World to reside in Florida unregulated, acting as its own “government” in a way. The act involved creating a special taxing district that acts with the same authority as a county government. The legislation made the claim that landowners within the Reedy Creek Improvement District, primarily Walt Disney World, could be allowed to be solely responsible for paying the cost of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection etc. Local taxpayers, meaning residents of Orange and Osceola County, would not have to pay for building or maintaining those services.
Reedy Creek, which is controlled by Disney, can issue tax-free bonds, levy taxes, oversee land use and environmental protections and provide essential public services.