The Big Ideas of 2008

Fighting For Air

As Adbusters heads back to court, we give an update and some background about our fight for commercial airspace.

Long-time readers of Adbusters may have noticed that we've been a little quiet about our ongoing legal battle to break the corporate monopoly on Canada's broadcast media. It hasn't been for lack of activity – in fact, some recent and welcome developments suggest that the case is about to pop back up onto the radar.

For those of you not quite up to speed, here's the gist: After over a decade of having our consumer-awareness TV spots rejected by just about every major commercial broadcaster in North America (often with little or no explanation from the network reps who issued the refusals), we resolved to take our fight to the courts. In 2004, we filed a lawsuit against the government of Canada and some of the country's biggest media barons, arguing that the public has a constitutionally protected right to expression over the public airwaves.

Following a series of false starts and the inevitable legal complications, the suit was whittled down to two main defendants: the government and CanWest Global Communications, Canada's largest international media corporation. The case is currently awaiting the resolution of two preliminary motions: one by Adbusters to add the CBC, Canada's publicly funded national broadcaster, as an additional defendant; the other by CanWest to strike the case before it even proceeds to trial.

Currently heading up Adbusters' case is attorney Ryan Dalziel, a specialist in commercial litigation with the Vancouver-based firm Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP. As Dalziel explains, "The main issue in those motions is whether it is so plain and obvious that CanWest and the CBC are not covered by [the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms] that the claims against them should be dismissed without a trial."

"This case is of public importance to Canadians," he adds, "and so we say it should be permitted to proceed to trial."

Canada's media regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Tele

44 comments on the article “Fighting For Air”

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I attempted to rally the private sector in Ecuador around the idea of THE FIRST PBS STATION in Ecuador and found so much resistance that we are in danger of losing ALL airwaves to the Ecuadorean Govt all together. I determined long ago thanks in great part to your organization that a percentage of ALL media should be in the hands of the citizenship. More on that 2 follow... if you wish.


Every person who comes into my house picks up your magazine and can't put it down until they have been distracted, kicked out, or finished with it. This is an important issue which calls out for anticensorship of public interests and local opinion. Is there any way we can affect this case positively with input defending your charges?


Great work! I'm tired of seeing all the same news repackaged and sold by all the stations whilst many worthwhile stories being ignored in favour of coverage of what Britney and Paris did today.


I've been involved in the media business for decades and believe that this is very important work on behalf of freedom of speech and public vs. private interests. Thanks for taking it on.


I'm from Hungary and do not understand the situation completely: what do you mean to be the cause of the rejection? Why are these spots not acceptable for the media companies? Do you want it to air free? Or why?


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