<body> Public Ad Campaign: Group Battles New York Transit Over Ad Censorship
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Group Battles New York Transit Over Ad Censorship

The posting here at PublicAdCampaign has been decidedly less political lately, and that is in part because it is just hard to keep all the balls in the air at anyone time, and so some aspects of the project suffer when others get more attention.

With that said, below is a little press release about an ad related to horse drawn carriages, that is not being allowed to appear in the NYC subway system. Recently the MTA has adopted a limited ability to censor ad content if it is deemed to be political. This is in large part due to ads related to the Jewish/Palestinian conflict that have used the subway advertising platform for some pretty hateful messages. The fact that this limited censorship is now being applied to a less aggressive ad campaign that isn't even outright political, shows the slippery slope the MTA has put itself on.

We can argue for days whether or not it is in the publics interest to limit the speech we see while traveling our underground rivers, but that is not what is interesting to me about this particular situation. What I find amazing is that Outfront Media, the outdoor advertising company that operates the vast network of ads within the subway system, is the one making the censorship call.

With a vested interest in using the subway system for commercial advertising only, tasking Outfront to determine what is, and what is not, appropriate free speech within thier network of advertising, is bound to result in aggressive censorship of anything non commercial. Now I am not saying that Outfront would have a policy to support this, but they do have a business model which is about making money and not engaging the question of how we use public space for public speech in the best way possible. Thier default reaction, and rightly so, is to keep things simple and pass on any "ad" which does not comply to a neat definition of what is acceptable use of our public advertising infrastructure, mainly commercial.

This is what happens when we allow OOH advertising to control the our visual public landscape and the messages which are put there. Thier interests are simply not aligned with the public's and therefore over time, the publics interests are left behind for the interest of those in charge, Outfront. Advertising in public space itself is not the end of our visual public dialogue, but given enough time and complacency, advertising will envelop all other forms of speech and leave our public spaces commercial opportunities and nothing more.

VIA: Marketwired

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - May 20, 2015) - The Metropolitan Transit Authority has rejected a PSA billboard about the dangers of horse-drawn carriages, submitted April 30 by nonprofit animal rights organization Last Chance for Animals. In response, LCA has hired prominent First Amendment Attorney Floyd Abrams to protect their constitutional right to free speech. More [HERE]

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