The Czech Parliament has approved an amendment to the Road Communications Act that makes it easier and faster for road and highway administrators to remove illegal billboards. According to Ondřej Lochman, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and an amendment author, some companies have exploited legal loopholes to place unauthorized billboards and advertising structures along Czech highways and roads. These companies also rent out the advertising spaces without permission, potentially putting drivers and other road users at risk.
The new amendment aims to streamline the process of removing illegal advertising structures by requiring road and highway administrators to notify the relevant authorities immediately upon discovering an unauthorized billboard or advertising structure along a roadway. If the authorities confirm that the billboard or design is illegal, the roadway’s owner or administrator will be required to remove it immediately.
Under the new law, local or regional technical services will remove the illegal structures. If the roadway owner or administrator cannot reach the owner, the advertising structure will be stored for up to three years at the owner’s expense. After this period, if the owner still has not claimed the system, it will be scrapped.
Before the amendment, removing unauthorized advertising structures was more complicated, requiring a four- to eight-week administrative process and a five-day notification period before the system could be removed. The process was often circumvented by unscrupulous advertisers, who continued to earn money from the advertising structures during the notification period.
The Ministry of Transport has backed the amendment as a way to make the enforcement of existing rules more efficient. The Ministry’s spokesperson, František Jemelka, said that while most unauthorized billboards have already been removed, some remaining structures still need to be taken down.
The issue of illegal billboards is not unique to the Czech Republic. Many other countries, including the United States, have also struggled with the proliferation of unauthorized advertising structures along highways and roads. In many cases, these structures pose a safety risk and mar the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.