Calls to #BoycottHulu and #CancelHulu have been trending today on social media in response to reports from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Governors Association that the streaming service is refusing to run ads about abortion rights and gun safety laws, presumably on the grounds that the ads are political in nature and Hulu has a vaguely defined “unwritten” policy against political ads.
Democrats are now accusing Hulu of censorship, with it objecting to ads that have been allowed to air on other streaming platforms and on regular television. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Suraj Patel, a Democratic candidate for Congress, says he was told by Hulu that ads about “abortion, guns, climate change, and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack” are too “sensitive” and cannot be shown on Hulu with edits.
Interestingly, THR points out that the Communications Act of 1934 requires TV networks to air political ads with no censorship of “any form” from “both parties” (we can’t help but point out that nobody is forcing us to have two political parties other than the leadership of those political parties who have a vested interest in the status quo, but that’s not really the issue here), but streaming services are not bound to that law—possibly because they weren’t around in 1934—so they’re an “increasingly popular” outlet for politicians.
Hulu doesn’t have a specific policy regarding political ads, but apparently its reviews ads with some sort of political message “on a case-by-case basis” and prohibits “content that takes a position on a controversial issue of public importance.” That being said, THR says that Hulu ran a pro-Trump ad in 2020 about the “deep state” and “socialist price controls” manipulating our healthcare system. So... yeah.
If this kind of faux-neutrality seems familiar, it might be because Hulu is majority-owned by Disney, which is run by Bob Chapek, whose own faux-neutrality blew up in his face earlier this year when he initially refused to comment on Florida’s horrifically homophobic and anti-trans “Don’t Say Gay” bill. You’d think someone in the corporate Disney chain would’ve realized that remaining silent on “a controversial issue of public importance” does not accomplish what they think it does, but here we are.