Los Angeles Superior Court judge Terry Green has ordered that Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor turn off most of their digital billboards in Los Angeles by 5 p.m. today. These are some of the signs that the City Council told the companies they could fire up as part of a controversial settlement deal in 2006 that allowed the conversion of up to 840 existing billboards. Summit Media, which was left out of the deal, challenged the arrangement and prevailed in court with its argument that the signs approved for its competitors violated city law. Judge Green's order on Friday begins enforcement of the finding that there are no valid city oermits for the CBS and Clear Channel electronic signs. ""The courts have spoken and the time has come for CBS and Clear Channel Outdoor to turn off their digital signs in keeping with the law," City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said in a statement. The fate of another 22 operating electronic signs will be taken up in front of Judge Green on Tuesday.
"This is what we've been waiting for now for six years," said Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight. He will have his eye on a sign near his home in Venice today. "I'm going to be out there personally at 5 o'clock to watch it go dark," he told the LA Times.
"The fact of the matter is, CBS, Clear Channel and the city were all wrongdoers in this thing," Summit Media's lawyer, Tim Alger, said. "They collaborated to enter into an illegal contract."
Said David Grabert, VP of Marketing & Communication for Cl;ar Channel: “Clear Channel Outdoor will follow Judge Green’s decision and turn off our signs. However, we will take all legal steps to renew operation of our signs in order to serve our customers and the community.
"Turning off these signs, even temporarily, hurts the community and the economy of the City of Los Angeles by eliminating a vital public safety and community resource and a valuable effective advertising tool for local and national businesses. Going forward, Clear Channel Outdoor is committed to working collaboratively with City leaders and stakeholders to establish a legislative solution for digital signs.”
Digital billboard at Pico and Exposition boulevards in West Los Angeles: LA Observed photo.