NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a law saying digital, floating billboards are banned in the state’s navigable waters, including the Hudson and East rivers.
It’s been an ongoing fight between the city, state and ad companies, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reports.
Critics say they’re an eyesore and distracting for drivers on the shore.
“There’s no need to have these big billboards out on the water here. It’s absurd,” Fred Seamen, of Brooklyn, said.
“I don’t want to look at another billboard floating by on the river,” Steve Dougherty, of Battery Park City, said.
Dougherty works along the Hudson River almost every day, and he was getting tired of the marketing technique.
“It just seemed like someone was taking advantage of a place of beauty,” he said.
The legislation prohibits vessels from operating, anchoring or mooring digital billboards in navigable waters, with Cuomo saying they “distract from the great natural beauty of our waterways.”
River violators would be charged $1,000 for the first violation and $5,000 for each subsequent violation.
Not everyone is getting on board with the ban, however.
“I feel like it was interesting and it caught people’s attention,” Jerry D’Leon, of Coney Island, said.
“If they are going to ban that, they might as well ban all other billboards around,” Katherine Wolkow, of Battery Park City, said.
The CEO of Ballyhoo Media, which operates some floating signs, questioned how far the ban really goes.
The legislation outlaws floating billboards that use “flashing, intermittent or moving lights.”
In a statement Tuesday, CEO Adam Shapiro said the changes don’t prohibit Ballyhoo Media from operating, it just offers “more clarity on what we can and cannot display with our new platform.”
“Ballyhoo’s asking for clarification. Can we put a neon billboard up which doesn’t flash or move? The answer may be yes or no. If they can’t, they most likely can put on a sign which has lights which actually aim at the sign,” trial lawyer Richard Roth said.
Roth says companies will most likely still look into advertising on the waters but will change up their designs.
“What the state is saying, and what a lot of states are gonna say is, you can’t do it everywhere. Billboards, there’s a place and a time for billboards,” Roth said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration previously sued Ballyhoo Media, claiming their signage violated the city’s zoning laws and created a public nuisance.
Since this is a New York law, we are still waiting to hear back from lawmakers about what this will mean from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.