Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

City billboards hijacked by AL

Advertisers at a loss as govt moves to sing its own song

These photos taken from Shahbagh, top, Moghbazar intersection, Ruposhi Bangla intersection, Manik Mia Avenue, and Mirpur-10 intersection in the capital show large hoardings advertising the “successes” of the Awami League-led government. The ruling party did not bother to rent or buy the billboards.

These photos taken from Shahbagh, top, Moghbazar intersection, Ruposhi Bangla intersection, Manik Mia Avenue, and Mirpur-10 intersection in the capital show large hoardings advertising the “successes” of the Awami League-led government. The ruling party did not bother to rent or buy the billboards. photo: Sk Enamul Haq, Anisur Rahman

City billboards hijacked by AL

Photo: Sk Enamul Haq, Anisur Rahman

The real estate firm had a huge billboard at Shahbagh touting its apartments. It would not miss anybody’s notice. The day before yesterday, as a company director was passing by, he discovered his advertisement had been replaced by a digital canvass, describing successes of the government in the last four and a half years.
The baffled director called his advertisement agency, a top firm in the capital. The agency was surprised too. It did not know anything about the government’s “success” billboard.
Nobody bothered to tell the agency or the realtor that their billboard was going to be replaced.
The ruling Awami League has suddenly gone on an aggressive campaign, flooding the city with such billboards highlighting various achievements of the government.
In the process, it has not cared to take permission of the advertisement agencies or the advertisers. It just grabbed the billboards wherever it chose to. It is an illegal act, but since it is in power, the party did not feel that it was illegal.
The agencies and the advertisers are too intimidated to challenge the AL.
The Daily Star has checked the records of the two Dhaka city corporations. Officials have confirmed that neither the AL nor the government had ever sought permission to set up the billboards.
City billboards hijacked by ALA billboard costs between Tk 3 and 40 lakh for a year, depending on the location. Neither the advertisers nor the agencies know for how long the AL will occupy their billboard and how much loss they will suffer. They will have to wait and see.
Actual billboard owners, advertisers and officials of the two Dhaka city corporations have expressed their dismay at the unsolicited and sudden move by the AL.
As a result of such unlawful occupation, many ad firms will incur huge losses, they added.
Officials of several top ad companies told this newspaper that their clients, including some multinational companies, had complained about the grabbing of their billboards.
“They [advertisers] are concerned about it because nobody knows how long these billboards are going to be occupied,” said the owner of a leading ad company, requesting anonymity.
AL insiders say they initially want to take over 7.5 lakh square feet of advertisement spaces at Tk 12 per square feet.
Spot Light Events, a Mirpur-based company, has been hired by the ruling party to do the job.
The campaign will cost crores of taka and will be expanded across the country. Billboards, festoons and banners depicting government’s successes would be installed at every intersection, bridge and foot overbridge in Dhaka and Chittagong, said sources in the AL.

Photo: Sk Enamul Haq, Anisur Rahman

Photo: Sk Enamul Haq, Anisur Rahman

“We shall go for more publicity with 75 percent focus on the government’s development activities,” said Ashim Kumar Ukil, deputy publicity affairs secretary of the AL.
Huge billboards, with pictures of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Sheikh Hasina have already flooded the capital. Messages on them include government’s achievements in education, health, diplomacy and other sectors.
One of the several banners in the city’s Russel Square highlights Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s victory over Myanmar in expanding the maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.
Md Rashed, general secretary of Bangladesh Outdoor Advertising Establishment Owners Association, said most of their billboards were grabbed by the ruling party over the past seven days.
“We normally get payment before Eid from our clients. But due to the sudden grabbing, clients are refusing to pay. And frankly, if this continues, we will incur a loss of up to Tk 150 crore,” Rashed said.
There are around 2,000 legal billboards in the city and the association has about 165 members involved in the business.
“None of our members dares to say anything because pictures of Bangabandhu and the prime minister are on the billboards,” Rashed added.

Photo: Sk Enamul Haq, Anisur Rahman

Photo: Sk Enamul Haq, Anisur Rahman

Several AL leaders defended the party move, saying there was nothing wrong in it as it was done through mutual understanding with the companies concerned.
However, AL Presidium Member Nooh-ul-Alam Lenin said that those who were given the responsibility to install the billboards should have done it following due process.
“I will inform the party high-ups if there are any irregularities in the process,” Lenin added.
AFM Bahauddin Nasim, organising secretary of the AL, said if there was any complaint, the party would remove the billboard in question.
BM Enamul Haque, chief executive officer of Dhaka North City Corporation, said his officials had seen such billboards and they would look into their legality after the Eid.
“If we find them illegal, we will take action,” he said.
Most billboard owners declined to comment on the matter on record for fear of reprisal. But they all termed the billboard campaign unprecedented.
“They [the AL] have no right to remove a legitimate billboard and replace it with their own,” said a member of the billboard owners association.



  • Wind

    Recently, this a audacious and well-timed work of Billboard ad of the achievement of govt definitely make some consciousnesses about the achievement of this incumbent govt .

  • max

    So BNP and all opposition should be kicked out. Is this democracy or what? If all opposition should be kicked out than what is he need for election. And if you love and admire so much AL thanyou can paint or better tatto your whole body with AL success story. Please spare the nation and its people in this fake nationalist drama. People have shown in five city election whom they want to kick in reality.

    • Khan from Ottawa, Canada

      Do you think people vote for BNP in Municipal Corporation? No it is a pure drama from people with BNP and Jamaat to stop the terrorist activities. And then people will give them a good lessons. Allah Varasha. Joy Bangladesh

  • Third_Eye

    This is definitely insane. Do you think their advertisement is going too change the mind of the people or just piss them off a bit more?

  • Khan from Ottawa, Canada

    As I believe it is useless to write against government and opposition. I think journalists who are for the people will engage them to establish the way how law of land and humanitarian could be practice in the society. They also think how to stop crime from law enforcement department. How to stop the crime of real estate companies (Builders). They must dig the crime of Rajuk officials from top to bottom. I think Editor Mr. Anam will follow the style of foreign journalism because internationally they have an image so I hope they will not lose their prestige by publishing funny news. We the expertise and the foreigners don’t want to see the fight between govt. party and opposition party. Thanks in advance for publishing my criticism about the news.

    • Anon

      If AL used people’s tax money to print this billboards then it is 100% Mr Anam’s duty to write this article. We did not pay tax so that AL can spend that money to advertising themselves.

      • Khan from Ottawa, Canada

        Did I object Mr. Anam to write this no; I say it should not be a international news. Read carefully, I already said his comments on billboard is right style, the billboards are hang on the street day and night so all the people moving around saw this. My point is on news not on legal or illegal.

  • Dhakablues

    Its only going to backfire, just like the BTV news, it won’t impact an iota of votes. And besides, having billboards in Dhaka city wont impact the votes in Rajshahi, Sylhet, Khulna like places.. There, the local issues also matter and AL and their goons are creating ‘blood red’ banners for themselves!!

  • SM

    Well, Hirok Rajar Deshe had all the characters ;)

  • Guest

    removed

  • Akter

    Using billboards for election campaign is not legal. The election commission should take action.

  • Anon

    lol. In my lifetime I voted for AL, BNP, Jatiya Party and even casted a NA vote. So yes I believe in total democracy, unlike you who thinks only AL is democratic.
    Just look at the number of unlikes you get in your comment and that will prove how likeable or democratic your comments are.

  • Anon

    My problem with your comments are that you have been away for so long that you lost touch with ground reality.

    Thinking that only AL can save Bangladesh is a biased and wrong idea.
    I voted for AL in ’70 then again in ’96. They were even worse then BNP. They tend to think this country belongs to their father and no one else matters.

    • Khan from Ottawa, Canada

      As you said you voted for AL in ’70 means you are closed to my age then you know why we go to fight in between Muslims? Their is no question arise that AL will save the country. If they want they could do this time but they lost the train. Now only the people could do the development of Bangladesh by avoiding AL, BNP, JP and kick out Jamaat.
      People will vote their leaders not from these three parties. It is the only way as I believe.

  • Khan from Ottawa, Canada

    Thanks and Eid Mubarak to you and your family. Wish you a very good luck.

  • Khan from Ottawa, Canada

    Mr. Anon you are right AL think this is their father’s land not a people land is true. BNP you said batter then that? No sir BNP is 100% pro-Paki and against liberation war. Father of BNP make the country anarchy by giving opportunity to Jamaat as well as Paki. Read the history of Newly formed Bangladesh. We the FF keep our mouth shut because of Paki is in power since 1975 to 1996. Most of the FF who love Bangladesh left the country since then. Look for a new leader and go beside him and rule the country.