Just as we learn that Facebook refuses to allow the Christian Democrats to air their campaign ad about hunting, we hear that TV4 refuses to air Alternative For Sweden's "Swexit" ad as well.
The ad, which is an extremely simple one, depicts a bright yellow background while blue letters are written on it. From a branding perspective, this is a given, as those are the colours of the party and happen to be the colours of the Swedish flag. The word it eventually spells is "Swexit", which is exactly like Brexit but for Sweden. The brand new political party "Alternative for Sweden" are running in the EU election with the promise to leave the EU, they even have a campaign website at the URL utur.eu - which means "leave the EU" in Swedish.
The party has been in talks with channel 4 since April to book media for this ad. The plan was to air the 15-second commercial during week 21, all week, until the election day on May 26. The commercial would reach over two and a half million viewers in Sweden. However, TV4 suddenly refused to air this ad, and cancelled the contract. This may not seem like a huge deal to anyone who lives in the land of 57 channels where there is nothing on, but TV4 is the only channel in Sweden where you can air political ads. By refusing one party, they are effectively tipping the election.
AfS's party leader Gustav Kasselstrand said:
- "TV4 poses a threat to freedom of expression and democracy. The biggest influencing operation in this election comes from TV4. They are the only channel in Sweden that can send political advertising, and now they prohibit advertising from the only party that promotes the idea of EU withdrawal. There is a large group of EU opponents in Sweden - a group like TV4 does not want us as a party to reach out to them. It is clear that this has a decisive impact on the election results.."
It's worth noting that not taking this ad is against channel 4s own advertising rules, where they state: "All political parties are offered the same advertising terms. "
Clearly not, in this case. What is even more bizarre is how they have communicated with the media buyer as if they were willing to accept this ad, but now they have cut all communication. After requesting, and receiving, the ads storyboard and topic, and passing it to legal, the TV4 representative simply said:
"Thanks for your patience. I have been notified and we are unfortunately unable to resolve your request this time. "
This after they stated previously, in the same email chain: "No we make no difference to parties, our special conditions apply to all :)"
The party leader, Gustav Kasselstrand wrote personally to TV4 demanding clarification as to why their ad was denied. The only reply was:
“This time we are not able to meet your wishes. When it comes to policy, TV4 always reserves the right to say no to advertising. ”