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World

Murtaza Ali Shah
November 16, 2017
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Transport for London apologises to Pakistan over adverts campaign

Transport for London apologises to Pakistan over adverts campaign

LONDON: The Transport for London (TfL) has issued apology to Pakistan over offensive advertising campaign across its network that targeted Pakistan’s sovereignty.

This correspondent has been passed exclusively excerpts of communication between Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner, and Mike Brown MVO, the TfL’s Commissioner of Transport.

The TfL told this scribe that an internal inquiry had concluded that Pakistan’s legal position on the issue of “free Balochistan” adverts on London transport network was right and clear “Advertising Policy” breaches had been found on its part.

The TfL confirmed that it had received first letter from Pakistan High Commission on 2nd of November, when anti-Pakistan campaign was run on London black taxi services, and then on 7th November when campaign on red buses stated.

Papers available with this reporter show that Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri wrote to TfL focusing on legal points and how rules of Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and TfL’s guidelines were clearly breached, therefore giving Pakistan enough grounds for a possible legal action.

The TfL’s inquiry found that on both occasions it was TfL’s mistake that these adverts were allowed to go on display. The Commissioner for Transport said unfortunately the Advertising Policy was broken and “for that we apologise. “We have written to our advertising partners to remind them of their responsibilities in relation to our Advertising Policy”.

The Transport Commissioner has written to Pakistan High Commissioner, Syed Ibne Abbas, stating that an internal investigation “concluded that they were in breach of our Advertising Policy, as relating to matters of public controversy or sensitivity” and advertising agency responsible for posting these adverts was requested that they be removed as soon as possible.

He explained that licensed taxis are only permitted to carry advertisements complying with TfL’s Advertising policy and any taxi displaying these advertisements has been issued with an unfit notice by our enforcement officers. A source in TfL has said that one driver who refused to take off the advertisement has been taken off the road.

He explained that al the taxis have removed advertisement and any taxi displaying the same adverts will be dissed with an “unfit notice” and driver’s license suspended.

The Commissioner explained that on 7 and 12 November the same advertisements were displayed on roadside advertising screens and buses, respectively. “On each occasion we instructed our advertising partners o remove these advertisements from our estate immediately.”

Mike Brown explained that he has asked all advertisements planed by the advertising agency in question to send to him in advance of their installation. The Commissioner noted that all advertising agencies working across the London transport network had assured him that no advertisement will be carried that doesn’t comply with “our Advertising Policy”.

Speaking to this reporter, a TfL spokesman confirmed that organizers of the campaign had submitted an amended version of the advertisement for approval. The spokesman said that it has been rejected and all advertisers told not to display the amended adverts.

Mike Brown has assured Pakistani authorities that no similar adverts will be allowed in future.

 

 

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