Fabian Demicoli

The new haphazard Regulations on Billboards and Advertising damaging to enterprises – GRTU calls for immediate repeal

GRTU is protesting against the ‘Billboards and Advertisements Regulations, 2016’ and the clandestine move by which this was introduced.

The Legal Notice that was introduced on the 29th of March 2016 by three separate Ministries is unacceptable and entered without any form of

 consultation with GRTU as a social partner whose members will be directly and gravely hit by this hurried law.

The law that may have had scope to perhaps orderly organise the billboards that we see scattered around our roads has stretched to cover any form of advertisement. Advertisement is defined as any word, letter, model, sign, placard, board, notice, device or representation, whether illuminated or not for the purposes of advertisement, including any boarding or similar used for the display of advertisements, including a billboard.

The Regulations go on to state that no advertisement shall be displayed or be illuminated in any place that is visible from the road without the permission of the Authority. This in practice literally means that all advertisements that are visible from a road will be regarded in the same manner, irrelevant if these are done within one’s private property or on public land, and will require a Planning Authority permit at a fee and will also pay a yearly license of Eur 1,500 every year to Transport Malta.

GRTU is shocked that the law goes as far as including shop signs and other advertisements that might be affixed to the façade. This with the exception of signs not more than 0.5 square meters in area that are fitted flat against the façade or fascia and is not a projecting sign and as long as there are no more than two such advertisements per shop.

Another disturbing requirement is that any advertisement, including a shop sign, must bear the Authority’s reference number for its permission and this must be included as an integral part of the advertisement design in a permanent, clear and legible manner. This negatively impacts the design of logos and signage both future and even more so those existing and overlooks the fact that this goes against the branding rules of franchises.

GRTU is aggravated by the fact that the Legal Notice has overnight placed great strain on the sector that is now faced with a situation where it is not able to honor advertisement commitments made before the law was published. Operators were put under pressure to resubmit the paperwork of their permits with the Planning Authority by Monday 11th April after Planning Authority officials reportedly called the clients of billboards operators informing them that if the billboard is not regulated a fine of between Eur 1000 and Eur 5000 will be applied.

GRTU condemns the method in which this law came into force in total disrespect of the principles of transparency and consultation. The law has hastily attempted to address an issue that has been in existence for a lengthy amount of years in the most incorrect of manners. Moreover, the Planning Authority has been sitting on the permit applications for over two years without giving any form of feedback.

The law has not assessed the significant impact it will be having on enterprises across Malta and has induced a money making mechanism for the benefit of the Planning Authority and Transport Malta that will throw enterprises in an even more precarious situation.

GRTU publicly calls for the repeal of the law and will be meeting the relevant Ministries shortly to ensure that the law is put into force only following drastic changes.

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