Protesters fighting ‘harmful’ advertising cover up digital advert screens 

A community action group came together to protest against “harmful” advertising screens in their neighbourhood on Saturday.

Adblock Lambeth’s day of action involved two separate walks, one starting in Coldharbour Lane in Denmark Hill and the other in Brixton Road, Brixton.

The digital advertising screens have been implemented by media giant Clear Channel UK, in partnership with Lambeth council, since 2015.

The protest by Adblock Lambeth was designed to show the number of screens in public spaces and to raise awareness around “harmful advertising” in Lambeth. 

A protester looking at taped screen (Picture: Camille Aboudaram)

Throughout the walk, protestors stuck tape across the screens with the message: “This screen uses the energy of three houses”. 

This figure has been estimated by Adfree Cities, a network of groups across the UK which are concerned about the impacts of corporate advertising on communities.

Clear Channel have refuted this claim. The company said their most common screens are single sided Adshel Live 75 inch screens which have an annual energy consumption of 3,300 kWh. This is much less than their findings on the average electricity consumption of a UK household which is 3,100 kWh per year.

A spokesman for Adblock Lambeth said: “Advertising in public spaces alienates people from their environment, turning it over to corporate interests that profit from encouraging gambling, drinking, payday loans and environmental pollution.

“We temporarily decorated these screens with non-sticky, non-damaging tape to draw attention to our message.”

Close up of the tape across one of the digital screens (Picture: Camille Aboudaram)

Adblock Lambeth claims it has received a cease-and-desist letter from Clear Channel’s legal team. 

The protesters were also met by three police officers at the start of the Coldharbour Lane walk, which they believe to be a result of a Clear Channel complaint.

Adblock Lambeth co-ordinator Christopher Scott said: “This is clearly a hugely disproportionate response to a local volunteer group going on a walk and a huge waste of police and council time and resources. 

“The police officers who attended wasted no time in giving the go-ahead to our obviously legal and non-damaging plans. 

“Planning permission has been granted to many more of these Clear Channel screens and we’re not willing to stand back and accept the corporate takeover of our public spaces”. 

A spokeswoman from Clear Channel said: “We are aware of the protests by AdBlock Lambeth which took place on Saturday.

“Clear Channel did not interfere with the lawful protests or activity but we did contact the organisers in advance to request that they did not cause any damage to Clear Channel screens which are part of the London Borough of Lambeth’s infrastructure.”

A spokesman from Lambeth council said: “Adblock Lambeth is part of a wider network campaigning against adverts in public places.

“Lambeth council has met with representatives from the group and has taken their views into account in creating an advertising policy that blocks potentially harmful goods and services, such as gambling and fast food.

 “Our partnership with Clear Channel brings in important income to help fund community services, and provides a good opportunity for the council to share important messages with our communities.”

 Pictured top: Taped over screens during the Adblock Lambeth protest on Saturday (Picture: Camille Aboudaram)

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One thought on “Protesters fighting ‘harmful’ advertising cover up digital advert screens 

  • Oliver Furlong

    I’d like to know if there is a council policy on exactly how much pavement space is it ok to allocate to digital advertising boards such as Clear One or BT Global digital street units ? When is enough enough? Are our pavements just an investment for digital street unit asset companies, and local councils just there to take an income from them at the expense of our communities and culture which actually are our streets? Because it seems a slippery slope to just keep selling more and more under the pretence of ‘this is funding local community services’, or is it lining the pockets of the Lambeth senior management bureaucracy? I wonder how much income Lambeth Council make from these per unit and what evidence they have of local community services actually benefitting from that income? All nice words coming from Lambeth council and no evidence.


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