New digital avenues for political advertising are opening faster than many politicos can keep up with, but a classic platform may be getting phased out: public transit advertising.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston recently announced that they are planning to ban all political advertising in their system, after an ad critical of Israel led to a heated debate over free speech among Bostonians.
Before today’s announcement, the MTBA already banned political advertising that supported or denounced a specific candidate, party or ballot question and “demeaning or disparaging” ads.
A MBTA spokesperson said, “To reduce unnecessary litigation which can arise from issue-based ads of this nature,” the city will move to ban all political advertising form the transit system “within two months.”
But Boston Doesn’t Ban Alone
Boston’s metro agency isn’t alone in the political ad ban wave – the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the nation’s largest transit agency, banned all political advertising from its system in April.
Ironically, the ban came after New Yorkers were offended by an ad that was critical of Islam.
And in the Nation’s Capital, the Washington Metro agency also decided to ban most political advertising in their system, in May, after – you guessed it – an offensive ad featuring the Prophet Muhammad drew harsh criticism from many D.C. locals.
Boston, New York and Washington D.C. all follow in the footsteps of transit agencies in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia who have banned political advertising in their system for some time.
But political consultants need not despair: the era of public transit advertising might be going through hard times, but there is still plenty of space in the digital frontier – more than $1 billion worth of space actually.