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Prague gets rid of visual smog

Because “Prague is not Disneyland”

  • June 06, 2020 15:00
  • Author Aseniya Dimitrova
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Few things can spoil the urban landscape like improperly placed advertisement. This is especially valid for a historical city like Prague, whose beauty has few rivals in Europe. The Czech capital has long been fighting against the visual smog, coming from many of the central commercial establishments.

Luckily, this situation may soon become a thing of the past, as the local authorities are making coordinated steps towards eliminating visual clutter. Their latest initiative is an illustrated guide, which aims to help entrepreneurs understand what kind of advertising is acceptable in the city centre and what's not.

First carrot, then stick

"I'm sorry to see the beautiful historic facades covered with cheap plastic signs. Prague is unique, but under the influence of advertisements, its uniqueness is lost. Advertising does not have to be annoying and tasteless - a beautiful shop window or company sign can increase the value of a place. That is why we have prepared a manual to help reduce visual smog," explains councillor Hana Třeštíková, quoted by the municipal portal.

Kristýna Drápalová who was in charge of producing the manual, attended numerous meetings with representatives of the different authorities and summarized what laws and regulations apply in the field of advertising in the centre of Prague. She discovered that there are gaps between the competencies of individual authorities.

For this reason, new rules, which did not exist in Czech law, were adopted. The complete set of regulations has since been approved by the city council and is legally binding for all buildings owned by the capital.

As the authorities explain, advertising legislation is currently very fragmented, and it is, therefore, difficult to determine with which regulations commercial establishments need to comply. This allows for many ads to be placed without proper permission and often end up in violation of regulations.

The manual is thus meant to guide entrepreneurs and instruct them on how to obtain all the necessary permits. The illustrated document is available to download for everyone who needs it (in Czech).

The Czech capital however is not the pioneer in approaching the problem in a didactic way. Other local governments, like Brno and Ostrava, have already published their own advertising manuals.

Finally, the city authorities have undertaken other steps to address the visual smog. More intensive control is previewed and a grant scheme to motivate entrepreneurs will be submitted to the City Council in the upcoming weeks as well, accordting to the municipal councillor.

The approach to visual advertising in Prague is part of a broader understanding of the tourist attractiveness of the capital and the strategy for the post-coronavirus return of tourism. Arguing that “Prague is not Disneyland”, the authors of the manual prove that the millennial city will be relying on quality tourism, and not one based on cheap alcohol and parties.



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