Adbusters wins appeal to broadcast political ads in BC court

0 Posted by - April 10, 2009 - Blog, Policy
Brand Baby Poster. Photo courtesy of Adbusters

Brand Baby Poster. Photo courtesy of Adbusters

Adbusters has won a landmark case for the right to show its ads on television and in newspapers. From an Adbusters communiqué this morning:


After 15 years of legal tussling to bring democracy to the public airwaves, Adbusters has finally scored a great victory. The Supreme Court of British Columbia has granted us an appeal in our landmark case against Canada’s CBC and Canwest Global, giving us the go-ahead to set a precedent and establish some public rights over the airwaves (check out the judges’ ruling here).

People are spending an unparalleled 8.5 hours per day in front of screens and even with the influx of new screen formats – cell phones, computers, Kindle – TV is still dominant. It’s the most powerful social communications medium of our time. And yet it is a place where commercial imperatives rule and dissenting voices are routinely censored. Adbusters’ attempts to purchase airtime from major commercial broadcasters for its socially-minded public service spots have been repeatedly denied over the years.

The airwaves are public property – just like city sidewalks or parks. They are a public space where freedom of speech must prevail. This is an inspiring idea for media activists and could pave the way for further legal victories down the road not only on the TV airwaves, but in cyberspace as well.

Not surprisingly, none of Canwest’s 13 daily newspapers or 23 TV channels covered the appeal court ruling. The silence has been deafening. Canadians citizens should be aware that the largest media conglomerate in our country is censoring the news to suit its own interests. Here’s who did cover the story: CBC Radio, the Globe and Mail, the Georgia Straight and the Tyee [and Art Threat!].

CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, MTV and the Food Channel have also repeatedly refused to sell us airtime over the past 15 years and we would like to launch a freedom of speech legal action in the US. If you know an American lawyer who may be interested in being part of our legal team then let us know, email

The endgame will be a series of lawsuits around the world forcing the half a dozen media megacorporations controlling the bulk of news and entertainment flows around the planet to return some control back to the public. Email if you want to talk strategy or contribute to our legal war chest.

Will this decision result in anti-commercial commercials on commercial TV? Let’s hope so…

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