This guest post was written by Ronan Ó Fathaigh*
On Monday, the Grand Chamber of the European Court held, by nine votes to eight, that the UK’s ban on political advertising on television did not violate Article 10. The majority opinion in Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom departed substantially from the Court’s previous case law on political advertising, and introduced a new method for reviewing the proportionality of such blanket-bans.
The facts were straightforward, with the applicant association submitting an advertisement for broadcast on television showing a girl playing a primate in a cage, with a voice-over describing the ill-treatment of primates. It was no surprise that the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre concluded the advertisement breached the Communications Act, which prohibits advertisements “directed towards a political end.” The case reached the House of Lords in 2007, and at that time there were two main authorities from the European Court that the law lords considered: