Big Guns Come Out in Defense of Digital Billboards: CBS Chief Moonves Urges L.A. Mayor to Oppose City Council Motions
Leslie Moonves, president of the CBS Corporation, has sent a letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urging him to use his powers to oppose any interference with the operation of the 101 digital billboards erected over the past two years by Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor. In his letter, Moonves says that CBS advertises its TV shows “extensively” on digital billboards, calling them an “exciting, flexible and attractive platform” for such marketing.
The legal status of the billboards was thrown into doubt last month when an L.A. County Superior Court Judge struck down the 2006 lawsuit settlement that allowed Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor (a division of CBS Corporation) to convert 840 of their conventional billboards to digital. The City Council is scheduled tomorrow to consider a motion by Council President Eric Garcetti directing the building department to comply with the judge’s ruling, and asking the City Attorney not to appeal to a higher court.
In his letter to Villaraigosa, Moonves says the Garcetti motion “is unfairly punitive to CBS’ outdoor advertising business” and that it could result in the removal of the digital billboards now operating in the city. He says that the entertainment industry is “deeply concerned about the possible loss of this new technology, particularly in today’s extraordinarily challenging economic environment.”
The only councilmember who has directly advocated re-converting the billboards to their original state is Councilman Paul Koretz. But Councilman Bill Rosendahl has filed a motion asking that the council discussion with respect to the judge’s ruling include “a potential revenue stream for the city from billboards, energy use from digital signs, digital ‘flips’ that create constituent issues, and quality of life and safety issues caused by digital signs.”