Wednesday, March 5, 2008

And I Thought Canadian Press was Less Restricted than US Press

Adbusters Demands Canwest, the CBC and the CRTC Stop Blocking
Citizen-Produced Advertising

On Monday, February 18, Adbusters lost its court battle against two of Canada's television networks that refused to sell airtime for its commercials. Adbusters claimed the CBC and Canwest Global had violated its right to free speech under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by refusing to sell air time, but the court decided that the Charter does not apply to private corporations.

"It's outrageous that the fast food, oil and automobile industries can buy as much TV time as they want in order to promote their agendas, but citizens are not allowed to talk back," said Adbusters Editor-in-Chief Kalle Lasn in response to the ruling. "Canadian democracy will not work properly until we the people have the same right to buy airtime as corporations do."

The rejected Adbusters ads pointed out that over 50 percent of the calories in a Big Mac come from fat, called for an end to the age of the automobile, and promoted Buy Nothing Day. While Court Justice William Ehrcke ruled that private broadcasters have the right to run whatever ads they like, Adbusters feels the case raises some troubling questions.

Firstly, why are Canwest and the CBC selling as much time as they possibly can to corporations, while fighting expensive legal actions to keep citizen-produced messages off the air? Why does the CBC call itself "Canada's Public Broadcaster" if they won't sell airtime to citizens?

Secondly, why is the CRTC not standing up for public access? When they grant licences to broadcasters, why is the right of Canadian citizens to access their own "public" airwaves not being guaranteed?

Thirdly, why is our freedom of speech being suppressed? Why can corporations buy airtime while citizens cannot? Why doesn't the Canadian Charter apply to the most powerful social communications medium of our age - television?

"This case goes to the very heart of what our democracy is all about," says Lasn. "A healthy society allows its citizens to walk into their local TV stations and buy airtime under the same rules and conditions that corporations do. Adbusters has been given 30 days to challenge the ruling. This legal battle for media democracy will go on."

To talk to Kalle Lasn, or Ryan Dalziel, our lawyer, about the case please contact Lauren Bercovitch (

For more information about Adbusters and the global media democracy movement visit and

I am curious if such restrictions apply in the States?

I will follow up on that.

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