As you may already know, Adbusters is locked in a struggle that began 20 years ago with a citizen-produced television spot warning of the hazards of clear-cutting in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Although the networks were happy to sell airtime to the logging industry, they flatly rejected our ad. That’s when we began to perceive the scope of the disparity between public and corporate interest and the woeful lack of democracy on the public airwaves … and from the flames of our outrage, Adbusters Media Foundation was born. We’ve since gone on to produce messages about food, fashion, automobiles, overconsumption, Buy Nothing Day, neoclassical economics and other critical areas of our culture – but every single one of our messages has been rejected by broadcasters in Canada, the US, Australia and Europe. Networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, MTV and the Food Network, have all refused to extend us the same right that corporate advertisers enjoy: the ability to call up a local TV station and purchase a 30-second time slot. So we decided to fight back and take the battle for media democracy to the courts.
It has been a long road. Over the course of 15 long years, we have suffered a string of debilitating defeats and incurred legal costs that almost bankrupted us.
But finally, last April, we won a stunning victory: the BC Court of Appeal overturned all previous rulings and declared that television airtime may indeed constitute “a public space,” one which all citizens have the right to access. This hard-won victory has inspired media activists around the world and paved our way forward.
But Canada’s most powerful media mogul, Leonard Asper, has decided to play dirty. He is appealing our victory to the Supreme Court – but not with any expectation of winning. Our lawyers tell us that Asper doesn't stand a chance of winning, he's just trying to deplete our coffers, trying to get us to run out of money before we can finish the fight. We’re determined to take Asper on and confident of eventual victory, but as we prepare for the next leg of our battle, we need an injection of funds from people like you, people who have shown their support for our work in the past, people who believe that open airwaves are one of the keys to a flourishing democracy and one of the few promising ways left for us to navigate our way through the dangerous ecological and political times that lie ahead. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says every human being has the right to seek, receive and impart information without hindrance. This means that, not just corporations, but all citizens and nonprofit groups have the right to walk into their local TV stations and purchase 30 seconds of airtime without being censored. We need $50,000 to keep this fight going and there are many ways you can help. Please donate online at adbusters.org/donate or give us a call at 604-736-9401 or 1-800-663-1243 (toll-free in North America). This is a freedom of speech legal battle of tremendous importance – please help us fight it,
PS – We are eager to get in touch with media lawyers in the US, UK and Australia who are interested in launching Right To Communicate legal actions in their countries. If you have ideas, want more information or want to help plot strategy, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. WHAT THEY SAID: We don't sell airtime for issue ads because that would allow the people with the financial resources to control public policy. – CBS Boston, public affairs manager, Donald Lowery [Airing your spots would] create some real angst with our key advertisers and clients and agencies. – Channel 7 Australia, sales manager, Eddie Reginato I'm sure we're not the only venue who has blocked you. I know. I've been kicking around this business for a long time. – Fox Broadcasting Company, executive director of broadcast standards, Darlene Lieblich [Your spots] are counterproductive to what we do. We sell advertising. – CHUM Television Canada, national sales representative, Susan Orr You know what I feel like saying? Suck it up, it's the real world. – ABC, vice president of advertising, Julie Hoover
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