Music firms accused of blighting cities with illegal posters

Author: By Matthew Beard

An anti-litter campaign group has accused major record labels of illegally blitzing town centres and concert venues with band posters.

Keep Britain Tidy says the companies are the main offenders in themarketing tactics which cost millions of pounds each year to clean up.

Initiating a campaign against “illegal, antisocial and environmentally-damaging” fly-posting, the group identified EMI, BMG, Warner Music and Sony as among the main culprits, although it acknowledged smaller labels were also involved.

A survey by Keep Britain Tidyfound mostillegally posted material was for the major labels, who employ contractors to carry out the work. Most prosecutions are against these firms, with fines up to £1,000. Casual workers who work in teams before major music events are paid about £2 for each poster they put up. They often refuse to reveal which company they work for when approached by local authorities.

To launch the campaign, activists from Keep Britain Tidy boarded a bus covered in posters to deliver letters of protest to the offices of each label it is targeting.

Alan Woods, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy said: “Do the bosses of record companies ever consider that residents in Birmingham or Bristol are going to have to pick up the tab for cleaning them up?”

The campaign is backed by Westminster Council, which set up an anti-graffiti and fly-posting unit two years ago. In the past year the council has brought 60 prosecutions resulting in average fines of £400, mainly against record labels. It spends £40,000 a year removing posters and graffiti.

Judith Warner, a Westminster councillor, said: “Record companies are the principal offenders, repeatedly illegally fly-posting. These are global brands, with billion dollar turnovers. The largest fine we can impose is £1,000 per offence, with the average fine given out in court being just £400. This is, of course, a drop in the ocean for these companies and will not act as a deterrent. We will be hitting the individual directors of these companies and we are ready to name and shame.”

A spokeswoman for EMI said: “We employ third parties for fly-posting on legal sites. If we discover that illegal sites are being used then we have the posters removed.”

A spokeswoman for Warner Music said: “We do not instruct poster companies to put up posters illegally. When we are notified that posters are put up in illegal places, we instruct the poster companies to take them down.”

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