Fabian Demicoli

GRTU’s crusade against the new Billboards and Advertising law

The new Billboards and Advertisements Regulations, 2016 came into force on 29th March 2016. The law brought together two older laws, one related to Billboards and the other related to any other Advertisement into one law and also introduced a number of significant changes.

The law regulates any kind of advertisement that can be seen from the road, including a shop sign, additional adverts both related to goods and services sold by an establishment and commercial adverts of third parties placed on the roads, including billboards.
GRTU immediately protested publicly and heavily against this law because it was introduced without any kind of prior consultation with GRTU as a social partner whose members would have been directly and gravely hit by this hurried law.
 
GRTU took it upon itself to clarify a number of misunderstandings in relation to what kind of adverts were in fact exempt from the law. Ultimately it became clear that even a simple shop sign falls well within the remit of the law.
 
An urgent meeting was held by GRTU for its members to discuss its concerns, iron out misunderstandings and establishing a way forward. A wide range of sectors reached out to GRTU and expressed their grave concern with the law.
 
The signage sector experienced an immediate drop that amounted to 90% of its sales. This sector was overnight practically stalled with its clients holding back orders fearing that their brand new signs would not be complaint with the law and subjected to the yearly Eur1500 fee.
 
Billboard operators were also thrown into turmoil being given an impossible deadline to register their billboards and comply with the requirements of the new law. Government unfortunately decided to address a problem that had been accumulating for over 10 years overnight and pointed its finger at billboard operators when the Government had significantly contributed in providing the right conditions to the situation we have on our hands today.
 
Following this public outcry GRTU held two meetings with the Parliamentary Secretary, meetings that GRTU itself had requested.
 
After lengthy discussions, GRTU succeeded in negotiating a 6 week long consultation period in order to come up with a set of proposals that would solve the issues that are embedded in the law.
 
GRTU’s consultation process is currently underway and will close on the 6th of June. The sectors that are being consulted are the sign writing operators, the billboards operators, as well as businesses in general, including retail shops.

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