In the High Court, Gaut­eng Local Divi­sion Johan­nes­burg, today, judg­ment was handed down in Boy­cott. Divest­ment. Sanc­tions. South Africa and Sweet­works Adver­tis­ing Agency v Con­ti­nen­tal Out­door Media (Pty) Ltd, the City of Johan­nes­burg and the Adver­tis­ing Stan­dards Author­ity. The judge found the actions of Con­ti­nen­tal Media uncon­sti­tu­tional and unlaw­ful. As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of BDS South Africa and Sweet­works, the LRC wel­comes the judg­ment.


As noted in the pre­vi­ous press release, the mat­ter involves a con­trac­tual dis­pute cen­tred on the right to free­dom of expres­sion. The dis­pute arose when Con­ti­nen­tal Out­door Media removed a BDS South Africa bill­board adver­tise­ment prior to the expi­ra­tion of the agreed flight­ing period, with­out notice or con­sul­ta­tion with BDS SA and Sweet­works. Con­ti­nen­tal con­tended that it was enti­tled to remove the bill­board as the advert was con­tentious and con­tro­ver­sial and, there­fore, not com­pli­ant with the rental agree­ment, the Out­door Adver­tis­ing Bylaws if the City of Johan­nes­burg and/or the Adver­tis­ing Stan­dards Author­ity Code of Con­duct (ASA Code).


The LRC argued that the removal of the bill­board was uncon­sti­tu­tional and unlaw­ful as it is in breach of Sec­tion 16 of the Con­sti­tu­tion which pro­vides for free­dom of expres­sion. We also argued that the rel­e­vant sec­tion of the by-law of the City of Johan­nes­burg, which does not allow adver­tis­ing that is “insen­si­tive to the pub­lic, or any por­tion thereof, or to any reli­gious or cul­tural group”, is uncon­sti­tu­tional in that it goes beyond the con­sti­tu­tional lim­i­ta­tions of free speech by set­ting a lower bar than the Con­sti­tu­tion allows.


The judge found the removal of the bill­boards to be uncon­sti­tu­tional and unlaw­ful and ordered Con­ti­nen­tal Out­door Media to, within 10 days, rein­state the bill­boards for an unin­ter­rupted period of 30 days. The judge fur­ther found that the rel­e­vant adver­tis­ing by-laws of the City of Johan­nes­burg are uncon­sti­tu­tional and gave the City a year in which to amend them.

Author: MRN NetworkThe aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.