The Eurosceptic, anti-mass migration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has found itself censored with only one television station in the nation willing to broadcast it’s election campaign advertising.
Less than a week after doubling their vote in the Upper Austria state elections and with a week to go for the Vienna city elections, the FPÖ have found themselves being starved of the oxygen of publicity by television stations.
While the Austrian state broadcaster cannot show political adverts by law, private channels can and regularly do in the run-up to elections, much as in other Western nations. Yet the ProSiebenSat.1 Puls4 group and the RTL refused to air the 30-second FPÖ spots.
Strangely, while station Puls 4 claims the decision is down to their advertising schedules being fully booked for the next week, they both take the step of claiming solidarity with each other. TheLocal.at reports the comments of an RTL spokesman who refused to give any reason for blocking the advertisements, other than the fact Puls 4 had. They said:
“This is what we’ve done here, and currently I know of one other business ad where we have done the same thing”.
A Puls 4 spokesman said:
“Our terms and conditions state that we reserve the right to reject commercials. Now, so close to the election, our TV schedules are actually fully booked and we can’t accept any more adverts.”
The political neutrality of the state broadcaster, and the refusal of two commercial channels leaves just one station in Austria that will broadcast the two 30-second political spots – ATV. One of the adverts calls for limits to migration: “the right to asylum for a limited time – not opening the door to everyone”. A second deals with domestic issues like the economy and pensions.
The FPÖ, which campaigns against Austria’s membership of the European Union and wants to see the nation take a significantly stronger position against migration has been surging in the polls of late. Austria has become one of the largest immigrant destinations in Europe and sits on the major migratory route for migrants heading north from Hungary and the Balkans.
After this week’s convincing performance in the Upper Austria local elections, a leading figure from the FPÖ’s more centrist right-wing partner said: “Today’s election was not about Upper Austria, but about one topic only, namely asylum, the winners amplified the understandable fears and concerns of the people”.
The two parties have ruled in coalition before, and with the FPÖ regaining popularity since a disastrous election in 2006 it seems likely they could again.
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