In the Blog
Adbusters and The Right to Counter-Advertise
“In a totalitarian system, you aren’t allowed to talk back to the government; in the corporate system, you can’t talk back to the sponsor” -Adbusters
On Monday, January 7th the British Columbia Supreme Court will be hearing presentations about the validity of a lawsuit that aims to determine whether or not broadcasters should be required to accept counter-advertising from Adbusters magazine. If the suit proceeds, first filed in 2004, it could change Canadian media significantly. From DB Scott at the Canadian Magazines Blog:
Adbusters, which runs without any advertising, has been trying for more than 10 years to place paid TV spots that lampoon and criticise advertisers and the media oligopoly in Canada (and the U.S.) but have been blocked by the networks. The suit hinges on the right of all Canadian citizens to have (as stipulated by the Canadian Broadcasting Act) “a reasonable opportunity…to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.”
You can view the ads that have been blocked by the networks and the audio responses from the networks as to why here. Because the Adbusters ads critique some of the very corporate sponsors that the networks thrive on, the commercials (which include a promotion for Buy Nothing Day and an attack on the beauty industry that doesn’t try to sell a product) were rejected flat out. The lawsuit argues that Canadians have a right to see them: “This case will decide if Canadians have the right to walk into their local TV stations and buy thirty seconds of airtime for a message they want to air,” says Kalle Lasn, editor-in-chief of Adbusters.
Ryan Dalziel of Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP, who is representing Adbusters, explains the special nature of this suit.
“This is not,” he says, “a bare-knuckle family law dispute, nor is it a Bay Street-style war of attrition between commercial entities. It is public interest litigation, brought by a not-for-profit organization with no chance of any monetary return.”