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ADVAN Sheathes Its Sword, Lawsuit Withdrawn

In a twist of fate, the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) has withdrawn its lawsuit against the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON). The positive development hints at a possible shift from conflict to dialogue by both parties.

The lawsuit, which involved ARCON alongside the Federal Government, House of Representatives, Senate, Attorney General of the Federation, and the Ministry of Information, was officially withdrawn at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, before Justice F.N Ogazi.

Following ADVAN’s recent decision to withdraw its membership in the Heads of Advertising Sectoral Groups (HASG), based on dissatisfaction with the recognition and action on their contributions. ADVAN stated, “Despite our repeated engagement, our submissions and contributions have not received the acknowledgment and action they warrant. We firmly believe that a successful joint committee can only be attained through a commitment to transparency, accountability, and inclusion by all parties involved.”

ADVAN had expressed a willingness to dialogue with the regulator following her recent decision to withdraw the lawsuit. In response to this, it is expected that Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, the Director General of ARCON, would continue engagement with all critical stakeholders through transparent dialogues and initiatives.

ADVAN’s legal action was initially spurred by the new advertising reforms following the amended ARCON act. While ARCON argues that these reforms are essential for the sector’s growth and development, ADVAN, under the leadership of President Osamede Uwubanmwen, sees it as a breach of constitutional and legal rights, prompting the legal challenge.

It must be noted that ADVAN’s opposition was not to the entire ARCON act but to approximately 50 specific items they believed infringed on advertisers’ rights and restricted contractual freedom. The crux of ADVAN’s challenge was whether ARCON had the authority to dictate contractual terms, arguing that the Advertising Industry Standard of Practice (AISOP) introduced by ARCON contradicted sections of the Nigerian constitution that allow businesses to negotiate contracts freely.

Key points of contention included:

  • Media Rates Deregulation: ARCON advocates for media houses to set their own rates independently, following supply and demand dynamics.
  • 45-Day Industry Credit Policy: To address industry debt and exploitation of media owners, ARCON insists on a 45-day payment window for advertising services.
  • Use of Local Talent: ARCON encourages the use of Nigerian models and voices in advertisements targeting the Nigerian market to promote local talent and identity.
  • Local Production: ARCON mandates that advertisements for the Nigerian market be produced within the country to create jobs, develop support services, and retain capital within the local advertising ecosystem.
  • Disengagement Protocol: ARCON requires agencies to reconcile and close all financial matters before switching to another agency, aiming to prevent unresolved debts during transitions.

ARCON, on the other hand, maintained that AISOP was designed to enhance equity and fairness in the advertising industry, aligning with government directives to ensure policies are constitutional, in the public interest, and consistent with existing government policies.

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