Hulu starts accepting political ads about gun control and abortion rights The streaming service had refused ads on topics like gun control and abortion. The policy change is likely to drive more dollars into mid-term election TV campaigns.

Hulu will take political ads on contentious issues after a social media outcry

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The streaming service Hulu says it will start accepting advertising about contentious political issues. The policy change follows protests earlier this week from Democratic groups who said that Hulu refused to run their ads relating to gun control and abortion rights. NPR's Chloe Veltman reports.

CHLOE VELTMAN, BYLINE: As the midterm election cycle heats up, ads like this one might soon become common on streaming platforms like Hulu.


UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: Every day, 110 Americans are killed by a gun. Two hundred more will be wounded by gun violence before the end of today.

VELTMAN: Hulu's new policy to accept this type of ad follows pressure on social media from Democratic groups earlier this week.

JULIE NORTON: For them to block us from being able to communicate the gravity of the times that we're in was hugely problematic for us.

VELTMAN: That's Julie Norton. She's a founding partner at Mosaic Communications, a media consultancy firm that buys ads for Democratic clients. Since Hulu's parent company, Disney, announced it would bring the streamer into alignment with its cable services and allow political ads to run, Norton says her company now might be able to work with the streamer.

NORTON: We just have a broader definition of television these days, so these platforms are a critically important way of getting our persuasion advertising to the voters.

VELTMAN: Unlike TV networks, streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix aren't obliged to comply with the 1934 Communications Act. That's the law that requires broadcasters to provide political advertisers with equal access to the airwaves. Broadcast TV is still expected to dominate this fall's cycle, with over $4 billion in election ads, according to the political ad monitoring firm Kantar/CMAG. But Kantar vice president Steve Passwaiter says streaming reaches younger and more segmented audiences.

STEVE PASSWAITER: This has become the new darling of the political set. And probably, by the time this cycle is over, there's going to be $1.5 billion that finds its way to these, you know, ad-supported streaming outlets.

VELTMAN: Passwaiter says it won't be too long before streamers end up looking a lot like broadcast and cable channels, both in terms of the volume and the array of ads all along the political spectrum. But Mike Shields, founder and partner of the Republican political marketing and strategy company Convergence Media, says his firm is waiting to see who gets to place ads with Hulu and how those ads are treated before considering it a win for his clients.

MIKE SHIELDS: Conservatives have every right to be skeptical when something like this happens to make sure that it is done fairly and in a balanced way.

VELTMAN: In its announcement, Disney said Hulu will now accept candidate and issue advertisements covering a wide spectrum of policy positions, but the company still reserves the right to request edits to comply with industry standards. Chloe Veltman, NPR News.


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