29. 11. 2016
The Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman) was approached by a man who complained about the fact that the Capital City of Prague’s advertising regulations include exemptions that confer advantages to Prague in comparison with other natural and legal persons. The regulation in question prohibits advertising in a specific area (the Prague Heritage Reservation and the surrounding area) on the grounds of its general inappropriateness in a location of this type; therefore, the person of the advertiser should be of no consequence. The complainant contacted the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT), which did not find any problems in the aforementioned exemptions.
Deputy Ombudsman inquired into the matter and found errors in the procedure of the MIT and the Prague City Hall, whose original verdict was referenced by the MIT in its response to the complainant. The above authorities claim that Prague as the capital city is not and cannot be an entrepreneur in the area of advertising and that the events subject to the exemptions for the benefit of Prague stipulated by the regulation in question did not constitute a support for entrepreneurial activities, meaning no violation of the equality principle could possibly occur. However, the Deputy Ombudsman refuted their arguments and requested that the MIT initiate supervisory steps under Section 108 of the Capital City of Prague Act.
Upon receiving the inquiry report, the MIT came up with a new and unsubstantiated claim that “the law itself is based on the fact that the position of entities in the respective area will not always be equal.” However, this argument was emphatically rejected by the Deputy Ombudsman, who provided reference to the Constitutional Court case law. The inquiry report as well as the final statement were also sent to Prague City Hall in order for the City Hall to consider a remedy by means of an amendment to the relevant regulation.
Following the receipt of the final statement, the MIT requested that the Capital City of Prague, pursuant to Section 108 of the Capital City of Prague Act, ensure remedy of the cited regulation. The Chief Executive of the Prague City Hall subsequently informed the Deputy Ombudsman that the current exemptions will be left out from the prepared amendment of the relevant regulation and, consequently, the Deputy Ombudsman closed the inquiry into this matter.