Six months after motorway billboard ban only fraction removed

Photo: Filip Titlbach

On Thursday it will be six months since legislation took effect banning billboards from the side of major roads in the Czech Republic. However, to date only around a tenth of the hoardings in question have actually been removed.

Photo: Filip Titlbach
On September 1 a bill that the country’s politicians had been discussing for a number of years finally entered the statute books. It made it illegal for billboards to stand by motorways and first class roads in the Czech Republic.

If owners didn’t obey orders to remove them the authorities were to take steps, including pulling them down and then charging the operators retrospectively.

The legislation concerned around 3,000 roadside hoardings. However, six months later the vast majority of them are still standing.

Jakub Stadler is a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport.

“In total, 300 billboards have disappeared on the motorways. So of the total, which is around 3,000, that figure amounts to 10 percent of all the billboards.”

Mr. Stadler’s own organisation has taken part in the removal of less than a third of that amount.

“As the roads authority that oversees the country’s motorways, we have removed 85 illegal advertising facilities.”

The other 200-plus billboards in question have been taken down by their owners, at a rate of around five a day, according to Lukáš Váňa, a spokesperson for the Outdoor Advertising Operators Union.

“But at present no billboards are being removed. That’s because the only company that was able to remove them has seen its license to do so run out.”

The Ministry of Transport counters that the company in question, Quo, does possess a valid permit to carry out the work.

Photo: Anna Herfortová
However, the firm also requires a related license to be allowed to close sections of motorway and has yet not taken any action to that end, officials say.

Meanwhile, the minister of transport, ANO’s Dan Ťok, is running out of patience with the situation, reported.

He is preparing to set up a special working group at the Road and Motorway Directorate that would take more action to enforce the ban. Ministry spokesperson Mr. Stadler said details would be forthcoming.

One side effect of the prohibition is that red, white and blue Czech flags have flooded the country’s motorways, perhaps confusing motorists who are simply passing through Czech territory.

Members of the Outdoor Advertising Operators Union have placed the flags on their billboards as a form of protest and in some sections of motorway a great number can be seen at one time.