<body> Public Ad Campaign: More Malfunctioning Taxi TV Screens Are Always On
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Malfunctioning Taxi TV Screens Are Always On

Is this public space? Should taxi riders be upset with being forced to digest advertisements while they ride through the concrete jungle?

Gothamist by John Del Signore

It seems that more and more taxi TV screens are losing the "off" or "mute" button, turning NYC cabs into hell on wheels. Incensed reader (and big band leader) Gregory Moore writes:

I made the very unpleasant discovery this weekend during a $20 cab ride downtown that those hideous backseat televisions are being re-designed so that they can no longer be turned off, muted or have the volume turned down. As I tried to conduct business on my mobile phone, I continued to be barraged with the same horrendous commercials over and over. Please notify your readers to file a complaint with the Taxi and Limousine Commission over this revolting new "innovation".
Moore goes on to rail against other modern abominations like "dungarees" and "intendos," (kidding) and adds that the driver "said people have actually been stiffing him because they're so pissed at this 'innovation.'"

Ira Goldstein at the Taxi and Limousine Commission assures us the screens are not being changed to eliminate the "off" or "mute" buttons and explains that it's simply a case of technological malfunction. "We have had reports of a handful or less situations such as you're describing and we're currently investigating that. The reports seem to be isolated to one of the three authorized vendors [who manage the TV screens]."

That would be Creative Mobile Technologies, who broadcast NBC and Clear Channel content in over 5,500 cabs citywide. Jesse Davis, the company's president, tells us that "in very small instances, if the touch screen becomes a problem the area can become non-sensitive. And when that happens the car is brought in for service because you can't use it for payment either." Davis insists the malfunction is "very infrequent and quickly remedied."

We started getting jeremiads like Moore's back in July; has anyone else encountered a similar problem? Moore is urging everyone to file a complaint here; the furious rant he sent to the city is after the jump.

"The new forced advertising inside of taxis is no less than being held hostage and made to listen to unwanted noise. Now that the TLC has determined that most thinking riders choose to turn off these backseat televisions, they have made it so that one is FORCED to watch/listen, with no access to on/off or volume. I conduct business from taxis in New York, and this is no less than a violation of my privacy and ability to choose.

"I made a list of all the advertisers that participate in this "innovation" and am going to actively boycott their products, starting with WNBC. Absolutely the worst invasion of privacy I've been forced to be subjected to. I plan to ask the driver if there is an on/off button before entering a cab and will refuse to ride in a cab that does not have one. This is absolutely shameful, in light of rising taxi fares. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for thinking this was acceptable."

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