Advertisements law in Bahrain set to be revamped

Current law dates back 48 years

Manama, Bahrain. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Manama, Bahrain. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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New rules and guidelines could be laid out for advertisements under a government proposal to update a law that dates back 48 years.

Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf yesterday sought feedback from municipal councils and the Capital Trustees Board on a new draft advertisements law that could crack down on offensive adverts and impose tougher punishments on violators.

The legislation, which will be referred by the Cabinet to the National Assembly, would immediately replace the 1973 Advertisements Law.

It will stipulate new guidelines for advertisements, including electronic billboards, banners and innovative displays.

“The current law is 48-years-old. Advertisements and technology have evolved over the years and a new law is vital for effective control,” said Southern Municipal Council legislative, administrative and financial affairs committee chairman Hizam Al Dossary.

He said a revamped law could also lead to municipalities gaining more revenues, especially from an elevated advertisements market.

“Advertisements on roads are a major contributor to several sectors and there has been more reliance on new concepts like electronic billboards and innovative displays, which the old law doesn’t deal with.

“Moral and technical specifications have also changed with the introduction of new technologies and accordingly administrative and legal action have to be on par.”

Mr Al Dossary said the new draft law will also give municipal inspectors judicial powers.

“Some advertisements are offensive while there are others that are placed improperly on the roadside, endangering lives. In such cases, immediate action is necessary.”

The final version of the draft law will be made public after Parliament review.

Meanwhile, the Southern Municipal Council rejected a parliamentary proposal to ban advertisements on lampposts.

Southern Municipality director-general Assem Abdullatif said statistics have shown that advertisements have never been the cause of accidents on the road, saying the suggested ban on lampposts would harm advertising agencies and affect municipal revenues.

Mr Khalaf stressed the need for a new law that reflects Bahrain’s urban strides and keeps abreast of modern advertising and telecommunications trends and technologies.

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