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Disney Will Now Let Hulu Air Political Ads Following Criticism

The company has reversed its original policy for the streaming service.

Hulu movies and TV shows
Hulu's new political ad policy takes effect immediately.
James Martin/CNET

After critics raised concerns about advertising censorship, Hulu will begin running ads for political issues and campaigns on its platform, the company confirmed Wednesday. The streaming service, which is majority owned by Disney, will implement the policy change immediately but with some conditions after facing backlash for rejecting ads tied to political issues including abortion, climate change and gun regulations. 

"After a thorough review of ad policies across its linear networks and streaming platforms over the last few months, Disney is now aligning Hulu's political advertising policies to be consistent with the company's general entertainment and sports cable networks and ESPN Plus," a Disney spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNET. 

"Hulu will now accept candidate and issue advertisements covering a wide spectrum of policy positions, but reserves the right to request edits or alternative creative, in alignment with industry standards." 

Broadcast networks such as CBS and Disney's ABC are subject to the Communications Act of 1934, which prevents them from blocking or censoring political campaign ads from any party. Streaming services like Hulu aren't bound by such legal rules that cover political ads. Therefore, it's up to the individual brand to decide how or what ads will air on its platform.

This policy change opens the door for political advocacy and candidate advertising.

Back in May, Disney revealed its plans for the new, ad-supported tier on Disney Plus. The entertainment giant said it won't run political or alcohol-themed ads on the family-friendly streaming service. Preschool-age viewers won't see any ads at all. The cheaper tier with commercials is due to launch later this year.