Volume 73, Number 39 | January 28 - February 03, 2004

New ‘TV screen’ subway ads get thumbs down from board

Villager photo by Lincoln Anderson

A new LED advertising screen at a Bleecker and Lafayette Sts. subway entrance showed Britney Spears flashing thigh.

As part of an arrangement with Clear Channel, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is installing 80 new light-emitting diode, or LED, advertising signs above subway entrances throughout the city. The signs have already provoked the ire of Upper West Siders and last week, Community Board 2 of Greenwich Village weighed in on the issue, with a similarly condemning opinion.

The signs have already been placed at several subway entrances in C.B. 2, including at Bleecker and Lafayette Sts. in the Noho Historic District.

On Jan. 13, the board’s Transportation Committee, chaired by Brad Hoylman, issued its resolution on the signs, stating, “These bright, moving billboards are inappropriate for mixed-use or residential neighborhoods or historic districts….. Community Board 2 urges the M.T.A. to remove LED screens from our public sidewalks and respect the integrity of the community’s historic districts by seeking approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before placing any LED screens above subway entrances in historic districts.”

During a discussion at the full board, Melissa Sklarz, a C.B. 2 member, wondered if the signs might help defray future transit fare hikes.

However, Hoylman scoffed that, “One hundred signs” wouldn’t even put a dent in the M.T.A.’s huge budget deficit.

“It doesn’t matter, we don’t want it,” added Jim Smith, the board’s chairperson.
Doris Diether said the signs are “illegal everywhere.”

Last Thursday night, one of the signs, located by the Noho Star restaurant at Bleecker and Lafayette Sts., was showing a clip of Britney Spears flinging her hair and then sashaying seductively, with a breeze blowing her short gray skirt, baring her hips and legs. There were also ads for The New York Times, a play or musical called “Hangman” and the cryptic Nextel “Done” ad.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said that while the M.T.A. doesn’t have to get Landmarks’ approval for changes on its subway entrances, he wishes in this case they would.


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