Pornographic websites advertised on buses, the State Government profits

Live sex shows are being advertised on Transperth public buses. How did this ever happen?

For years, the Advertising Standards Bureau has given free rein to the sex industry to promote pornography and prostitution services in the public space. What does this look like? Billboards advertising strip clubs outside schools, school buses advertising Sexpo and sex shops permitted to use highly sexualized and porn themed advertising imagery in shop front windows. But now, the ASB along with the WA State Government have given the green light to promoting pornographic websites on buses.

Transperth buses in Perth’s northern suburbs (and perhaps elsewhere) feature advertisements for Sexpo, the sex industry convention. Yet these ads don’t just promote the event, they list the sponsors and refer to their pornographic web address.

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After seeing the ads and noticing the website included, I typed the web address into my browser. With no trouble at all, I entered what was a web-camming site, with young women offering sexual services complete with live videos depicting various women engaged in graphic sexual acts, including penetration with objects. It is well documented that there is an increase in rates of young and underage women being exploited in web-camming and yet the WA state government is now advertising such websites.

Why was this website advertised on a government owned bus? Why was the web address included at all if not so people would visit it? Do the ASB believe children are incapable of typing a web address into their electronic devices?

The ASB argues the system for making complaints is relatively simple and effective. Here’s what my process entailed:

  1. I made a complaint to the ASB and received an automated email back saying they would consider my complaint and let me know of the outcome. This generally takes at least a matter of weeks, and by the time a ruling had been made, even if it was to uphold the complaint, Sexpo would have already taken place. To order an ad for an event that already took place be removed accomplishes nothing- it has already served its purpose, and the advertiser has already gotten away with breaching ad codes with no penalties, no inconvenience and no incentive to abide by the code in the future. And that is assuming they actually upheld complaints, which given past experience, I knew was unlikely.
  2. I made a complaint to APN Outdoor who is responsible advertising on buses. After four days, having made a complaint via their website, called and left messages and tweeted them, I called again and spoke with a representative. She said they did not have the authority to remove the advertisement and suggested I contact OMA.
  3. I contacted the State Minister for Women’s Interests A policy advisor suggested I make a complaint to the ASB.
  4. I contacted the State Minister for Transport and a policy advisor advised me to contact the Department of Transport.
  5. I contacted the Department of Transport and they referred me to Transperth.
  6. I contacted Transperth and they referred me to someone else.
  7. I contacted my local MP who referred me to the ASB. 
  8. I even contacted the Premier and reminded him of his promise to ensure the Government did not profit from sexist and sexually exploitative advertising on Government and Government owned advertising, his commitment to ‘set the standard’ in this area. I haven’t heard back.
  9. I contacted Outdoor Media Association and they referred me to someone else. I can’t even remember anymore, all I know is that I kept being referred back to bodies who had already claimed they lacked the authority to take any action and had referred me on.

Despite identifying an ad promoting a hardcore live steaming porn website, I could not find a single body or policy in place to do anything about it. This is the effectiveness of advertising self regulation at work.

This advertising regulation system is a failure. It is a system that gives advertisers complete freedom- freedom to advertise sex industry services to children, free to erect billboards in the city centre depicting bestiality or gang rape. Why would any member of the community go to all the trouble required to make a complaint in a system that is so inefficient- a system that is regulated and controlled by the advertisers themselves?

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Further Reading

25 Reasons Why Ad Industry Self-Regulation is a Disaster

Ad Standards Said What? Our compilation of sexist and porn inspired ads permitted by the ASB


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  • published this page in News 2017-05-04 13:06:53 +1000

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