Feb 5, 2018

newspapers can discriminate against political parties

Haredi feminist activist Ruth Kolian had sued 2 haredi newspapers, Yated Neeman and Yom LYom, for not running the ads for her political party, BZchutan, in the 2015 elections. She claimed discrimination as BZchutan was a party of [Haredi] women.

Without getting into details of the case, the court recently decided against Kolian, in favor of the newspapers. The court decided that the newspapers did not reject her ads because they were women but because the ads were for a political party not identified with the outlook of the newspapers. It is acceptable for the newspapers to refuse to accept advertisements for political parties attempting to take away votes from the parties clearly identified with those newspapers. It is important to note that the court determined that the newspapers did not reject the ads because of Kolian, or the rest of the party, being female, but because the party was a competing party and not identified with the newspaper.

This is an interesting and unexpected decision on what constitutes discrimination, and if anyone can explain it better, especially the ramifications, I would appreciate it.

It seems to me that this gives newspapers a wide berth in making decisions like this. While most newspapers will take any ad thrown their way that brings in big money, like political ads from just about all parties, a newspaper with some sort of political identification could now easily decide to not accept ads from other parties. For example, Israel Hayom, identified clearly as being a supporter of Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud, could reject ads from Labor or Yesh Atid parties, along with Shas and Habayit Hayehudi. Haaretz, identified with perhaps Meretz and Labor, could choose to reject ads from Yesh Atid. Makor Rishon could reject ads from the Haredi parties and from the Likud and from the various small parties that seem to crop up in every election. etc etc etc

While newspapers cannot discriminate against women, they can discriminate against political parties that are not aligned with the political outlook of the newspaper.

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  1. It's a double-edged sword: a newspaper may refuse to reject an ad on the basis of it running counter to its political bent, but that carries an admission of a certain degree of lack of objectivity. So if, for example, Maariv would refuse to run a Likud ad, their credibility takes a hit, and any anti-Likud piece they run should be taken that much less seriously.

    The legal difference between the two types of discrimination is clear (to this non-lawyer). Discriminating based on gender, race, religion, etc., is illegal. Discriminating based on political affiliation is generally problematic, but something which is political in nature (say, a newspaper with a certain political outlook) cannot be forced to act against its principles.

    1. You've got to be kidding - no one has the slightest doubt that every newspaper has an agenda.

    2. I'm not talking about agendas, but objectivity. Maybe "balance" is a better word. Nobody thinks that newspapers are neutral, but refusing to run ads of a certain party cements that view. (Example - an article in a right-wing paper about something involving a left-wing personality has to be taken with a grain of salt; if they refuse to run that party's ad, the grain of salt grows.)

  2. Silly decision. If a newspaper be shitta believes that women should not run for office, it should have the right not to run their ads. Having your ad run in a paper is not the same thing as getting on a bus or being served in a restaurant.

  3. Better question: what if Likud wants to advertise in yated? Not farfetched, as everyone knows not every charedi votes for charedi parties. Or for argument's sake, Moshe Feiglin puts an ad in yated, and they accept it.


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