Industry self-regulation for Queensland outdoor advertising to stay despite ACL efforts

Industry self-regulation for Queensland outdoor advertising to stay despite ACL efforts
Image: Rip and Roll Billboard featuring Michael James

THE campaign to regulate outdoor advertising in Queensland has been resolved with the State Government deciding to leave the industry’s self-regulatory model in place, while warning of government intervention in cases involving repeat offenders.

The decision came after a parliamentary inquiry into sexually explicit outdoor advertising was instigated following a petition created by Queensland ACL director Wendy Francis, that recommended the creation of a co-regulatory approach to outdoor advertising.

In a decision earlier this month, the government opted to keep the established self-regulatory model in place, with the option to step in and penalise companies that failed to heed warnings over explicit or offensive advertising and don’t comply with determinations of the Advertising Standard Board.

The campaign to enforce strict regulations on outdoor advertising was led by Katter’s Australian Party (KAP), whose MP Shane Knuth compared the Queensland AIDS Council’s (QuAC) 2011 ‘Rip ‘N Roll’ campaign and the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays “Congratulations, you’re having a lesbian” campaign to a 2013 Foxtel “bestiality” ad in Sydney.

Francis was an opponent to the Rip ‘N Roll safe sex ad campaign, along with other efforts to extend equality to same-sex couples and the LGBTI community in Queensland.

Also speaking about the issue in parliament, KAP leader and son of the party’s founder, Robert Katter, argued that early sexualisation of children by exposure to sexual content ”could damage the foundation they need to become adults who are capable of forming positive, caring sexual relationships”.

The news of the government deciding to support and keep the self-regulatory model in place comes on the back of a KAP bill that was overwhelmingly voted down in April.

Among other suggested conditions, the bill proposed 15 and 20 kilometre zones be placed around “facilities frequented by children and families” that only permitted only G-rated advertising within them. Facilities mentioned included schools, shopping centres and bus stops.

Knuth expressed disappointment that the government had decided to stand by the existing model.

“The reality is that community expectations are clearly in favour of governments stepping in and making advertisers clean up their act,” he told Fairfax Media.

“What they are after is preventative action, not reactionary actions.”

Meanwhile, Francis welcomed news of tougher government penalties for repeat offenders.

“The ASB is a self-regulated body. Currently, they alone hand down rulings against its advertisers and there is no recourse once their decision is made, making it difficult to keep advertisers accountable to the community,” she told Fairfax Media.

“At the very least we need a government avenue for people to go to if their complaint to the ASB is unsuccessful.”

Joint managing director of Queensland outdoor advertising company GOA, Chris Tyquin, accused the KAP of being “completely irresponsible” in its original campaign.

“KAP are fringe players that are looking for any opportunity to make themselves relevant with whoever is making noise at the time,” Tyquin told the Star Observer.

“They are playing a very dangerous game with no considerations to broader business. They were being completely irresponsible.”

Tyqin, who has personally supported LGBTI advertising, most notably the PFLAG “Congratulations” campaign, said that the direction KAP MPs were taking the issue caused concern.

“We had some grave concerns about the implications about creativity being impacted by what the KAP was proposing. There’s a fine line between risqué and creative and having that regulated by government posed the industry a few problems,” he said.

“I believe we’ve become too conservative but there were definitely some campaigns that were being run that needed to be pulled in line like the nasal spray sex ads and some strip clubs across Brisbane. I credit Francis for challenging those campaigns.”

Tyquin did not agree with the views expressed around other LGBTI-targeted ads and said he’d be very happy to run other similar campaigns.

“I would have no problem with running another Rip ‘N Roll or PFLAG ad,” he said.

“We’ve ended up with the voice of reason in this debate with the government’s decision. [The KAP] have unfortunately muddied the waters and created a lot of unnecessary stress.”


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