The Disney-owned streaming platform Hulu reportedly blocked political ads funded by Democratic candidates focused on abortion and guns.
Hulu apparently rejected ads purchased jointly by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Governors Association earlier this month, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the refusal. Other Disney-owned broadcasters, including an ABC affiliate in Philadelphia and ESPN, accepted the ads, according to the Post.
Outraged Democrats accused Hulu of censorship.
“Hulu is doing a huge disservice to the American people by blocking voters from learning the truth about the GOP record or denying these issues from even being discussed,” the heads of the three Democratic committees told the Post in a statement.
Hulu also reportedly told the campaign of Suraj Patel, a New York Democratic candidate for Congress, to remove references to what the company deemed “sensitive topics,” including abortion, climate change and guns, according to Jezebel. The streaming company suggested the campaign instead focus on “non-sensitive” issues like taxes and infrastructure, a Patel campaign source told Jezebel.
Hulu told Patel on Monday the original ad would be allowed to run, the Post reported. The same ad has already appeared on cable channels in Manhattan, Jezebel said.
Hulu has not responded to HuffPost’s request for comment.
As a streamer, Hulu is not bound by the 1934 Communications Act, which mandates that broadcasters give equal time to politicians from different parties. Still, the ad rejections show the rising stakes for companies in the era of Trump-aligned politicians willing to publicly savage any corporate interest that crosses them.
Disney, Hulu’s parent company, came under fire when CEO Bob Chapek initially refused to take a stance on Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prevents elementary teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity. After Chapek apologized and took a stand against the bill, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attacked Disney and moved to strip the company’s theme parks of their self-governing exemptions.
Hulu’s apparent reluctance to accept advertising mentioning abortion also reflects a free speech double standard when it comes to procedure.
In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a California law mandating that Christian-run anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” tell women if they have no licensed medical professionals on staff and that abortion services are available elsewhere. Such free-speech protections do not apply to real doctors in states like Mississippi and Arizona, where state laws force clinics to tell women fake information about the procedure.