May 28, 2012
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CBS and Clear Channel work toward bringing ads to Tampa

Two billboard companies may add their names to the list of advertising groups on Tampa’s electronic billboards. CBS and Clear Channel Outdoor have asked the city for permission to add 14 (more than double their previous request of 6) electronic billboards to Tampa’s roadsides.

City Council will vote on the land development code proposal in June, but there’s a catch. The proposal states that for each new digital billboard the companies create, they much take down 10 traditional boards. Under their deal with the city, this number includes both existing and proposed boards.

Tampa city officials have been battling for years about outdoor advertising. Billboard numbers have decreased by one third from their number of 1300 citywide three years ago. In the settlement, Clear Channel and CBS have the right to six electronic billboards each in the city. Historic districts are off limits; boards are only allowed on certain roads with limits to their brightness levels.

City officials are pleased with the deal because it removes boards from neighborhoods. City Councilman Mike Suarez said, “I’ve actually been quite surprised and happy with the type of compromise they came up with.”

Councilman Frank Reddick wants limits to billboard placement: “I do not want the city to become what it used to be — billboards all over the place,”

President of Tampa-based public relations firm, Pressman & Associates, Todd Pressman noted that Tampa’s advertising rules have become a model for other cities. Pressman said, “This ordinance is pointed to in every jurisdiction we go to.”

If other cities are modeling their advertising rules on Tampa’s precedence, why are these companies acting to change it? Tom O’Neill, a spokesman for Clear Channel, answered that question stating how the company wants to expand its presence in the Tampa market while working with the community. “With the legal issues behind us, Clear Channel Outdoor is thrilled to be back working with local government and will continually strive to meet the needs of the community,” O’Neill said. “We strongly believe enhancing the digital agreement is an integral part of that commitment.”

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