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Report No. 255

(iv) ECHR standards on permissibility of such restrictions

7.45.1. Political advertising is the exercise of freedom of speech expression. Restrictions on paid political advertising limit such freedom. Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom ECHR (124) 2013. In VgT v. Switzerland, App. No. 24699/94, 34 Eur. H.R. Rep. 159 (2001) the ECHR held that the ban on political broadcasts infringed the right to freedom of expression, but did concede that a prohibition could be compatible with such freedom in some circumstances if it met a 'pressing social need'. Sunday Times v. United Kingdom (1979) 2 EHRR 229.

7.45.2. The Human Rights Council in its 26th session306 reaffirmed the view held by the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance suggesting that while paid political advertising is permissible, private media outlets should be required to charge the same rates to all the parties and candidates without any discrimination.307 The Pensioner's Party in Norway was fined for carrying out advertisements which read: "We need your vote on 15th September Vote for the Pensioners Party." However, the ECHR in 1995 held that there was a lack of reasonable nexus between the restriction and the object sought from the regulation.308

306. A/HRC/26/30/Human Rights Council Twenty Sixth session Agenda item 3, 30th May, 2014

307. International Electoral Standards Guidelines for reviewing the legal framework of elections, International Institute For Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2002
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308. (1 of 1) Case of TV Vest as and Rogaland Pensjonistparti V. Norway, Application no. 21132/05,

7.45.3. Political advertisement denies equal or fair access to direct broadcasting as every candidate should have fair access regardless of the state of their campaign finance.309 The ECHR in Murphy has held "no advertisement shall be broadcast which is directed towards any religious or political end or which has any relation to an industrial dispute." Murphy v. Ireland, No. 44179/98, ECHR 2003-IX.

309. Media and Elections, 2013, Ace Network,

7.45.4. In Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom, ECHR (124) 2013 the ECHR, upheld the validity of a ban imposed by the BACC (Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre) on broadcasting appellant's piece and drew attention to the political nature of ADI's objectives, which as such prohibited the broadcasting of the advertisement under Section 321(2) which disqualifies advertisement remotely promoting any political objective.

It further stated that the ban imposed was not in contravention to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR upheld the validity of the ban on two grounds: (i) the aim of preventing distortion of public debate by the highest spender is legitimate, and (ii) there is a reasonable nexus between the object sought and the measure employed.

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