The Outdoor Media Association (OMA) has hit back at the Queensland Government’s probe into the regulation of outdoor advertising, branding it “redundant” and “absurd”.
The inquiry, announced on Friday, will examine if new laws and classifications are needed to crack down on sexually explicit material on billboards.
Charmaine Moldrich, chief executive of OMA, questioned the need for the review saying “the facts speak for themselves”.
“There was no nation-wide complaints, in the area of sex, sexuality and nudity upheld against OMA members in 2012,” Moldrich said.
Last year, less than 5% of the 3,640 complaints submitted across all media to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) related to outdoor advertising.
“In light of these impressive results and the industry’s commitment to self-regulation, the move by the Queensland Government is redundant,” the OMA said in a statement.
“A move to impose new government regulation and bureaucracy is just red tape and goes against the Newman Government’s principles.”
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The inquiry was announced by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie last week reportedly following a petition from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) which sported more than 1,300 signatures.
In 2011 the ACL caused headaches for OOH companies in Queensland when it launched what Adshel labeled a “coordinated campaign” against billboard companies displaying a safe-sex ad featuring a homosexual company, called ‘Rip and Roll’ (pictured).
“It is difficult to avoid outdoor advertising in everyday life and such advertising can be seen by children, with no ability for parents to restrict access if it is inappropriate,” Mr Bleijie said on Friday.
“There have been Federal reviews of this regulation in recent years, with no meaningful improvements.
“Whatever regulation is in place, we need a system that when complaints are made, adequate action is taken. I don’t think that is happening at the moment.”
However, Fiona Jolly, the chief executive of the ASB, said its research shows that determinations made by the ASB “are in line with general community standards”.
“We are constantly updating and streamlining our complaints handling processes to ensure we continue to uphold an international best practice model for complaints resolution.”
Alina Bain, acting CEO of the Australian Association of National Advertisers, said there is no evidence that the current self-regulatory system is not working.
“Advertising works on a national level so to expect an advertiser to have one billboard for Queensland and another for the rest of the country is plainly absurd,” Bain said.
“Unnecessary regulations and possible ratings of billboards would be a hindrance to both the community and the industry through slower management and resolution of complaints: self-regulatory schemes are quickly improved and amended whereas legislative frameworks can take longer to amend.”
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The ‘Rip and Roll’ campaign (pictured) featured a homosexual couple and was launched by the Queensland Association of Healthy Communities.
Adshel first bowed to pressure and removed the ad from its sites before reinstating them following a barrage of criticism.
Goa Billboards refused to remove the messaging and instead bit back at ACL with digital ads displaying the message “Our God loves everyone gay & straight”.
The ASB later dismissed all complaints about the “sexual nature” of the campaign and found it did not break any advertising or marketing codes of ethics.