BREAKING NEWS:Telstra Wins In Battle With Councils Sting In The Tail Result
Advertising revenues of big Councils such as Sydney and Melbourne could get hit after Telstra won a major Court case that may still have a sting in the tail.
After a bitter battle and in a desperate move to preserve millions in revenue from billboard advertising the Councils tried to stop Telstra rolling new payphones with digital advertising billboards, with the Federal Court finding that the new telephone boxes were “low-impact” facilities that do not require council approval.
But the sting could be that telco cannot run advertisements from third parties without a planning permit, meaning the new-generation payphone billboards can be installed without approval but for now can only promote Telstra’s “standard telephone service.
Melbourne-based Federal Court Justice David O’Callaghan ruled on Tuesday that Telstra’s new payphone cabinets with 75-inch billboards were “low-impact facilities” when the digital screens were used only to promote the standard telephone service.
The Federal Court heard the telco intended to install 1800 of the payphones, including in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Telstra filed proceedings in the Federal Court in May last year to clarify the law after Melbourne City Council rejected its application for approval to run commercial advertising on 81 proposed new payphone billboards.
The councils argued the payphone billboards were not “public payphone cabinets”, and therefore Telstra did need planning approval.
A City of Sydney spokesperson said it was “disappointed” with the decision.
The chair of the City of Melbourne’s Planning Portfolio, Councillor Nicholas Reece, told Nine Media the decision allowed Telstra to install the payphones, but the council would decide applications to display commercial advertising “on a case-by-case basis”.
“We believe the number and location of these booths are currently being decided on the basis of advertising exposure rather than customer need,” Cr Reece said.