Newsstands of Tomorrow Get Mixed Reviews Today- NY Times 08-30-08
Cemusa, the Madrid-based advertising company, recently began installation of street furniture under a 20-year contract with the city of New York. The installation includes bus shelters, magazine stands and pay toilets which over the life of the 20-year contract will bring the city upwards of a billion dollars in revenue. I have been relatively unphased by this because it changes little about the amount of advertising in the city, though the bus shelters advertisements now rotate bringing you twice the ads, and the magazine stands have taken ads to heroic new sizes.
Regardless I have had my attentions other places until I read this article in the New York Times. Glen Collins writes "Before 2003, newsstand operators paid the city a licensing fee, but owned and paid for their newsstands and, under certain circumstances, could sell them. Now the newsstands are owned by Cemusa, and operators pay a two-year city license fee of $1,076....New operators will pay Cemusa a one-time fee of $27,000 for their newsstands..." This would all be fine and dandy if the old newsstands hadn't been in many cases "...confiscated without any compensation..." from their previous owners.
What we are seeing in this article is commercial ad revenue, which is at the heart of this matter since it is what has driven Cemusa to so kindly install millions of dollars in street furniture in an American city, walking over public space. Under the assumption that the Cemusa street furniture brings "...a unique, iconic look, and brings a positive, coordinated feel to the streets.", Bloomberg has co-conspired with Cemusa to steal the cities control of our public environment and give it to a company willing to share a small amount of the ad revenue it will generate by stealing that space. This billion dollars we are making over the next twenty years is what has allowed the city government to steal and to turn a cold shoulder on many of its residents' needs while pandering to the wishes of a billion dollar corporation like Cemusa and should be seen as the culprit. Without commercial money "funding" our city facilities we would never be in a situation where we can so blatantly neglect the rights of our citizens.