‘You Won’t Be Able to Book Any Billboards in Australia’: Agency Tells Beijing Critic and Human Rights Advocate

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
December 15, 2021 Updated: December 16, 2021

Advertising critical of China or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could be barred from running on any billboards in Australia, according to a recording by Senate candidate and student-activist Drew Pavlou.

In a recording posted on Pavlou’s Twitter account, an advertising representative explained why his billboard company was turning down an AU$3,000 (US$2,152) campaign—featuring the works of dissident artist Badiucao, who is critical of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

“What’s happened is that all of the managing directors have gotten together on it. The reality is that for the $3,000 you’re about to spend, the risk associated with our industry getting supplied with billboards out of China and steel—which is where it all comes from—is not worth the money that you’re going to spend,” the representative told Pavlou.

“Even if you were to spend $100,000 not $3,000 it still wouldn’t be worth it, so ultimately, the managing director of Goa has contacted Brad Bishopp [managing director of Bishopp Outdoor Advertising] and said, ‘Hey I’m really concerned for our industry if we run this anti-China messaging,’” he added.

The representative explained that the industry in Australia relied heavily on Chinese factories to supply materials for their billboards, and overt advertising critical of Beijing could spark ramifications, including cuts to their supply chains or “cybersecurity risks.”

He further pointed out that the managing directors of Goa and Bishopp sat on the Outdoor Media Association, the peak industry body for the billboard advertising industry representing all major players in the country.

“You won’t be able to book any billboards with any company in Australia with any-Chinese messaging,” he said.

Pavlou tried to explain that the content of his advertising was “not radical stuff” and that it was the “government policy of the U.S., UK, and Australia.”

However, there was little the salesperson could do.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Outdoor Media Association and Bishopp Outdoor Advertising for comment but did not receive any at the time of publication.

Pavlou has been building support for a run for Parliament at the next federal election and has been selecting candidates for his Democratic Alliance Party.

The student made headlines in 2020 after being suspended from the University of Queensland following his involvement in on-campus protests against the CCP around the time of major pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the issue of intimidation of media that run editorial lines critical of Beijing is not new.

Last year, spokespeople from The Epoch Times Chinese edition revealed in a Senate hearing that several advertisers faced pressure to cut ties with the group, sometimes in the guise of overt intimidation and other times due to fears it could offend individuals in China.

Some examples include an Australian state tourism body, and major automotive businesses steering clear of advertising on “sensitive” platforms.

In another instance, a Sydney-based law firm cancelled its advertising with The Epoch Times after going to an event that was also attended by the Sydney Chinese Consulate.