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Website for marital cheats edges closer to advertising on Israeli TV, radio

ShowImageThe homepage of the Ashley Madison website is displayed on an iPad, in this photo illustration. (photo credit:REUTERS)

In a cutting-edge debate over moral values in broadcasting and commercial free speech, Ashley Madison, a website that connects married persons interested in having affairs, moved a big step closer to advertising on Israeli TV and radio during a Monday hearing before the High Court of Justice.

The heart of the debate has been: Should a website that facilitates affairs for married people be allowed to advertise on television and radio or does that constitute the soliciting of sexual services? Likely the key development at the hearing was the broadcasting regulator’s lawyer, Yair Asael, revealing that, under the gun of the petition, an appeals body for the broadcasting regulator recently opened the door to Ashley Madison airing a highly revised infomercial – despite the regulator’s CEO recently having unequivocally and categorically closing the door on even a modified advertisement.

Asael said the regulator’s CEO had been highly disappointed with the flexibility shown by the appeals board and said Israel would be acting more progressively than other countries that had stood by banning the website.

According to an understanding reached at the hearing between High Court Justices Yoram Danziger, Neal Hendel and Anat Baron, and the lawyers for both sides, the parties now have approximately 14 days to negotiate the content of the infomercial before Ashley Madison can return to the court to seek to compel the regulator to permit the advertisement.

A lawyer for the Center for Enhancing the Strengthening of Family Values concluded the hearing quoting Torah scholar Nechama Leibowitz, stating, “A nation can possess every physical and spiritual gift and still be judged for destruction” – and explaining that allowing the ad’s destructive message to run would destroy billions of shekels of the state’s investment in educating youth.

Ashley Madison filed the petition May 21 after the broadcasting regulator blocked its television and radio commercials, saying they would violate a rule prohibiting advertising for “sex services.”

In a March 29, 2015, letter, Second Authority CEO Nir Schwecki wrote to Ashley Madison that its advertisement and services were “a platform to assist in developing sexual relations between married people that were not with their spouse” and that encouraging adultery can destroy families.

The petition lays out the claim that in past court cases, commercials containing sexual innuendos and expressions have been approved for broadcast, but that Ashley Madison’s commercial, which does not contain sexual innuendos was banned.

Ashley Madison lawyer Tomer Rife pressed this point on Monday, invoking a variety of recent ads involving sexual innuendos about supermodel Bar Refaeli and other female models engaging in sexual relations, and saying the regulator was using a “double standard” in this case.

However, the justices, particularly Baron in one of the first high-profile cases in which she has been vocal since becoming a justice earlier this year, pushed back on this point.


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