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David Cameron says Obama is green-eyed over TV ad ban for politicians in UK

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

March 16, 2015 | 3 min read

Prime minister David Cameron has revealed US president Barack Obama envies the UK's blanket ban of political advertising on TV.

During a livestreamed interview with BuzzFeed, the prime minister was asked why British parties aren’t allowed to advertise on TV.

“Oh…the times President Obama has said to me you don’t know how lucky you are not having TV advertising,” responded Cameron.

“We had a system on BBC and ITV of political party broadcasts and that was provided for the parties, and sensibly someone said no political advertising because if we did the fundraising would be like in America. The cost is so immense,” he said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the 2012 presidential race saw Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each spend in excess of $1bn.

Cameron explained when he tells American politicians that he spent $150,000 to become leader of the Conservatives in 2005 “they literally faint”.

“That’s what they would spend on one advert in Michigan,” he said. “So we’re lucky we don’t do it.”

Cameron said for the general election this year, the main parties have increasingly turned to the opportunities online where you can create and serve ads “relatively cheaply.” The Conservatives are reported to have amassed a £100,000 monthly bill for Facebook alone.

It has also been predicted the party will spend in excess of £19.5m in a bid to stay in Number 10, but Cameron revealed it was “limited to some £18m”.

“We complain about money in politics but it's nothing compared to the Americans. We’re limited to some £18m we can spend in the general election which for a country of our size is not too bad.”

However, it's unlikely any of this budget will go on Snapchat's new ad offering as the PM admitted he was “not a user”.

Last month, The Drum analysed the marketing tactics that the main political parties are using to galvanise online supporters.

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