Parties get cashed up for online blitz during blackout

THE major parties have called on their support bases to bankroll an online advertising campaign that will kick off from midnight tonight.

Notes from the party headquarters of Labor, the Coalition and The Greens have called on their supporters to donate to advertising to circumvent the blackout which starts on traditional media from midnight.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wrote to Labor supporters to "donate $5 and help reach more than 12 million Australians over the next three days through platforms like Facebook, where we can still get our message out".

While Liberal Party Federal Director Brian Loughnane wrote to the party's base there was "too much at stake" to risk a re-elected Labor government, calling for donations "to help us finish the campaign strongly".

University of Melbourne Associate Professor of Political Science Sally Young said the campaign was now turning directly to voters through the internet.

She said since the rise on the internet, every election year has seen a similar move to online campaigns as the advertising black-out began.

"Every election year, they've pushed it online, so it's no surprise really that they're asking supporters for donations," she said.

Assoc Prof Young said the current rules were created when television and radio were the main media for political advertising, and they were largely irrelevant in the new media environment.

"It's an old rule that was designed to give people a quiet period of reflection to decide who they would give their vote," she said.

"But it doesn't make much sense today, at the same time it is one of the few rules on political advertising we have - we don't have truth regulation, so maybe it's not such a bad thing."

Assoc Prof Young said other changes in the media landscape has also changed the nature of the 2013 federal election, particularly the rise of fact checking units and university policy analysis online.

"This rise has also happened as the commercial media is under pressure and is doing less of it (election coverage), and the political discussion generally has less prominence," she said.

"I think it's an important growing division between the information haves and the have-nots - leading to a more segregated audience."



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