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”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 44

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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?

Jordaan Allison

It's encouraging to hear how Adbusters has been making progress on this issue. Let us not forget that the reason this case has not gained the attention it warrants is because it is the media that determines for itself what is important to the public, whether Britney Spears vagina or the newest starving orphan Brad and Angelina adopted. We cannot fail to see the relevance of this case and how private interest have predetermined the very content of our public discourse. We cannot expect this campaign to occur in the way we've grown accustom to in the past. This is an issue that won't be battled from the comfort of our living room sofas, for information is the business of corporate media compromising that equity is a threat, public autonomy is a threat, and this case is a sign of the windfall to come.

The revolution will not be televised. Scott Heron

Leah Dettman

Thanks for fighting this battle which is of importance to all Canadians, even those who do not realize it is occurring!


We as citizens have spent the last 70 years in media bondage. Our children have become the embodiment of the hypnoadvertising, socially engineered slaves of consumerism.

We must be able to counter this atrocity. Thank you AdBusters for lighting the torch!

Hilary Scott

Perhaps a citizens reform movement should swoop down upon the court and really force media to pay attention. Why shouldn't citizens have a right to hear/see and believe or not believe all of what free expression in televised media/print or other has to offer! Without the censorship of a monopolized oligarchy dictating the course with reckless/feckless abandon.

Tobias Blackwood

Perhaps people should stop thanking you Adbusters and letting you continue the case on your own, but yet thank you for starting a case to which they can try and join. Surely a bigger impact can be made with more people behind the cause.


when i was 6 or seven years old living in smithers b.c. my mother, a wonderfull human, was teaching me about one of the worst, most evil, disgusting sick, humans in history wiped out 6 million jewish humans and i said mommy where was god? she said michael i do not know. it was then i became a free thinker, and i went on to become a quiet rebel right up to today at 65 years old. the jewish people are gods chossen people and i love and will die for them at a moments notice.

Gary D'Orazio

We should demand that the CBC carry live news from the Middle East, word for word, just as the Arabs report it. This will eventually become known as Canada's globalized politically correct rainbow of facts. Why does the CBC have the right to exclude how the Middle East sees the incestuous relationship between the US and Israel?

Byron McElroy

So now the Arabs have the most balanced news coverage Gary? I've seen some of the shit in Lebanon and just because it is virulantly antiwestern doesn't make it true.


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