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5 J. Media L. 1 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/joomaw5 and id is 1 raw text is: DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/17577632.5.1.1

COMMENT AND ANALYSIS
Animal Defenders International: Speech, Spending,
and a Change of Direction in Strasbourg
Jacob Rowbottom'
INTRODUCTION
In Animal Defenders International v UK, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of
Human Rights upheld the UK ban on paid political advertising on the broadcast media.
The challenge to the ban came after an animal rights group was told that it could not
buy a 20-second advertisement on television criticising the treatment of primates used
for entertainment. The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre refused to give clearance
to the advert on the grounds that the objectives of the group were 'wholly or mainly
of a political nature, and therefore fell within the ban under section 321 of the Com-
munications Act 2003. The applicants had challenged the ban in the domestic courts
on the grounds that it violated freedom of expression rights under Article 10 of the
European Convention on Human Rights and asked for a declaration of incompatibility
under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998. Both the High Court and the House of
Lords rejected the application and found that the ban was compatible with Article 10,
without a single dissenting judgment.' While the Strasbourg Court came to the same
conclusion as the domestic courts, the decision was not unanimous. A majority of nine
judges upheld the ban and eight judges dissented. A single vote could have changed the
outcome.
In reaching its conclusion, the Grand Chamber looked at the balance struck between
the advocacy group's'right to impart information and ideas of general interest' with'the
University College, Oxford, UK. Thanks to Jeff King and David Rowbottom for comments on an earlier
draft.
IR (on the Application of Animal Defenders International) v Secretary of State for Culture, Mledia and Sport
[2008] UKHL 15, [2006] EWHC 3069.

(2013) 5(1) JML 1-13

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