Hulu is under fire following a report that it rejected Democratic campaign ads referring to abortion, climate change, and gun control. Published by the Washington Post on Monday, this report followed an earlier accusation by New York congressional candidate Suraj Patel, who publicly called out Disney (Hulu’s parent company) for asking him to edit one of his campaign ads to remove “sensitive” material.
According to Patel, Hulu requested that the phrase “climate change” be removed from the ad, along with footage of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Hulu later agreed to air the ad after this controversy went public.
The Washington Post confirmed that Hulu blocked similar ads from other Democratic campaigns referring to abortion and gun control. And since Hulu hasn’t publicly clarified its advertising guidelines, these rejections were perceived as evidence of political bias, tying into previous controversies over Disney supporting Republican policies like the Don’t Say Gay bill.
As this news spread online, some people began to call for a Hulu boycott. One TikTok about Hulu’s ad policy has been viewed half a million times in 12 hours, with the TikToker saying he’d unsubscribed from Hulu in protest. Meanwhile the hashtag #BoycottHulu is currently trending on Twitter, with people accusing Hulu of censorship and right-wing bias.
As the Washington Post points out, streaming services aren’t bound by the Communications Act of 1934, which requires traditional broadcast networks to give equal access to opposing political campaigns. Hulu has a lot more control over which commercials it airs, and these ads were reportedly blocked due to an internal policy against “advertising that takes a position on a controversial issue, regardless of whether it is a political ad.”
The ambiguity of this policy was called out by the heads of several Democratic campaign committees, which released a joint statement describing this as “censorship” and “another step down a dangerous path for our country.”
But while Hulu is attracting widespread accusations of political bias, the #BoycottHulu hashtag also has its detractors—not just from a political angle, but because some subscribers just don’t want to see any ads at all.
As soon as the hashtag began to trend on Twitter, it inspired comments like, “I don’t get all the #BoycottHulu shit bc like tbh I don’t wanna be watching a show/movie and get a political ad.” There’s already pushback against streaming services including ads for paid subscribers, so if you’re not especially invested in politics, this just seems like a campaign for more unwanted commercials.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Hulu for comment.
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