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 have incurred legal costs that almost bankrupted us. But finally, last April, we won a stunning victory: the bc Court of Appeal overturned 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 Leonard Asper – Canada’s most powerful media mogul – and his CanWest corporation have decided to play dirty. They’re appealing our victory – but not with the expectation of overturning it. Asper’s strategy is to deplete our coffers, hoping that we’ll run out of money before we can finish the fight. He’s not trying to beat us; he’s trying to outlast us.
We’re happy to take Asper on. But as we prepare for the next leg of our legal battle, we need an injection of funds. We are asking for donations from you and other people in our network who believe that open airwaves is one of the keys to a flourishing democracy, one of the few promising ways left for us to navigate our way through the dangerous times that lie ahead.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says every human being has the right to seek, to receive and impart information without hindrance. Please help us win the battle for our inalienable right to communicate.
There are many ways you can help. You can make a donation online, call us at 604-736-9401 or 1-800-663-1243 (toll-free in North America) or send a check along with the form provided.
We are also trying to get in touch with media lawyers in the US, Australia and the UK who are interested in launching Right To Communicate legal actions in their own countries. If you have ideas, want more information or wish to help in plotting strategy, email me at [email protected].
This is a freedom of speech battle of tremendous importance … please help us fight it.
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
[Your TV spots] are counterproductive to what we do. We sell advertising. – CHUM Television Canada, national sales representative, Susan Orr.
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
You know what I feel like saying? Suck it up, it's the real world. – ABC, vice president of advertising, Julie Hoover