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Ads activist goes to court

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In this story from Canada – Adbusters (see story) have been refused the sale of airtime by the various networks including CBC – the one owned by the Canadian people via the Government. Seems like the networks are protecting their advertising customers and corporate breathern and hiding from the truth….

    Ads activist goes to court
    Sues networks for refusing air time

    Lawyer cites freedom of speech

    RICK WESTHEAD
    BUSINESS REPORTER

    A Vancouver social activist group is suing Canada’s four largest TV broadcasters for rejecting ads that address obesity, environmental destruction and other social issues.

    Adbusters Media Foundation has asked an Ontario court to demand that BCE Inc., CanWest Global Communications Corp., CHUM Ltd. and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. be required to “air Adbusters’ advertisements in the same manner as it does other paid advertisements.”

    Last fall, when Adbusters tried to buy ads on the networks, three of the broadcasters rejected the prospective ads outright. Only one advertiser that wasn’t identified in the court filing accepted the ads, but “with severe restrictions” about when the ads could be aired.

    Clayton Ruby, a Toronto lawyer who represents Adbusters, said it could be six months or more before the case goes to trial.

    “They (the broadcasters) are going to fight like mad and let’s face it, they’re rich,” Ruby said in an interview. Ruby said that the case amounts to a freedom of speech debate.

    “The government is taking public property in the airways, licensing them to a small number of people, and is looking the other way as those people advance their own commercial interests and won’t allow room for questioning.”

    Adbusters’ claims haven’t been proved in court. None of the four broadcasters have filed a statement of defence.

    CTV on April 12 told Adbusters that it would sell ad time for three selected commercials, said a network spokesperson. It’s unclear whether Adbusters responded to the network.

    “We reserve the right to determine commercial acceptance and the right to reject commercials that CTV deems may have any kind of negative impact on its business,” a CTV spokesperson said.

    None of the other three networks would comment.

    One of the 10 ads Adbusters tried to have aired in Canada was a spot that attacked McDonald’s Corp. The ad showed a Big Mac on the hood of a car. A voice over alleged that 52 per cent of the hamburger’s calories came from fat.

    The problem with getting that ad on the air, Adbusters executive Kalle Lasn said, is that BCE Inc., whose channels include CTV, and the other broadcasters won’t take the ads out of worry that McDonald’s would stop buying commercial time.

    McDonald’s is among Canada’s largest corporate advertisers and spent $31 million last year buying TV time, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc.

    Lasn, a former documentary film maker whose organization has a $3 million budget and 120,000 subscribers for its Adbusters magazine, said that while most U.S.-based broadcasters have also refused its ads, Time Warner Inc.’s CNN and CNN Headline News do air its spots.

    Founded in 1990, Adbusters has made numerous enemies in corporate North America, using myriad TV and Internet spoofs and satires to draw attention to its causes.

    In 1993, for instance, the makers of Absolut Vodka threatened to sue over fake ads that purported to show the vodka bottle’s profile as a wilted condom. Absolut subsequently backed away from the imbroglio.

    This isn’t Adbusters’ first battle with a Canadian broadcaster.

    The foundation previously tried to buy advertising time during CBC’s show The Driver’s Seat. The Adbuster spot promoted the behemoth “Autosaurus” and foreshadowed the death of the automobile.

    When CBC refused to air the ad, Adbusters took the case to court.

    The Supreme Court later refused to hear Adbusters’ case.

    “It’s different now because we’ve got a high-power lawyer and more resources to fight with,” said Lasn.

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About Jason Koulouras