Freedom of expression lawsuit irony

I’m still planning to deliver a post talking more in depth about the freedom of expression claim CanWest Global is making in their DTCA lawsuit, as I promised here, but this week’s commencement of the British Columbia Supreme Court case in which Adbusters is suing Global Television, the CBC and the CRTC begs my attention.

Adbusters is suing Global Television, the major network of CanWest’s broadcast portfolio (“the Global Television network broadcasts via 10 television stations, reaching 96% of English-speaking Canada.”), national “public” broadcaster/crown corporation (operating at arms-length from the gov’t) the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and the regulator for Canadian television and radio media, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Adbusters says they’ve been trying to buy ad time from major broadcasters for over a decade, and are consistently turned down, often with little to no explanation. So Adbusters is suing the government and the biggest media company for infringing on their freedom of expression.

The irony:

Of course, at the same time that Adbusters is suing them for blocking free expression, Global TV’s parent company, CanWest Global, is suing the government for infringing on their freedom of expression by regulating the type of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads they can run/sell ad space to.

Hmm…who has the more legitimate case here? A not-for-profit public interest group vying for access to airtime to express their views and get people thinking about consumerism?


A for-profit media conglomerate vying to overturn the national public health regulations in order to be allowed to make money off of other giant for-profit companies’ advertising expressions that may or may not endanger public health?

Not that it’s an either/or dichotomy…I just find it quite interesting to compare the arguments and watch these two cases play out side-by-side in different provinces. I expect that at least one of these will go to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Compare for yourself:
You can see some of the Adbusters ads here

Compare them, perhaps, with some of the Pharmaceutical DTC ads: Gardasil, Celebrex, Lunesta, Zoloft.

Now, tell me which seems more likely to (as stated in S.3 of the Broadcasting Act) “serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada.”

Interesting times we live in, eh?



1 Comment

Filed under Intellectual freedom, media democracy

One response to “Freedom of expression lawsuit irony

  1. Pingback: The Vancouver Sun parody & SLAPP « Social Justice Librarian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s