Harlem City Council Member Levine And Others Says LED-Billboard Boats Are No Ballyhoo!

March 25, 2019

A City Council bill soon could allow for harsher fines on floating LED billboards, which officials believe to be illegal under the zoning code.

Gothamist reports that legislation sponsored by Council member Mark Levine and Justin Brannan would increase the fine for companies caught advertising in the city’s waterways to $100,000 from $25,000.

Gothamist reports that legislation sponsored by Councilmember Mark Levine and Justin Brannan would increase the fine for companies caught advertising in the city’s waterways to $100,000 from $25,000.

The law is an apparent response to a controversial barge that first appeared along Manhattan’s riverfront in October, bearing ads for private helicopter rides and beer on a 60-foot LED screen. The barge is run by Ballyhoo Media, which described itself as a proprietor of “high-impact outdoor advertising” in Miami and New York.

The boats run on the Hudson and East rivers around Lower Manhattan, floating past Hudson Yards, Chelsea Piers and Battery Park City and beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, among other landmarks. A 30-second looped spot on the boat costs $55,000, according to a January report from Digiday.

Passers-by have called the barge an “eyesore,” “visual pollution” and a threat to turn the city’s waterfront into “Times Square on the Hudson.” New York City’s Corporation Counsel sent a letter to the company in January that gave Ballyhoo two weeks to prove that its ad barge is in compliance with city zoning. But the boat is still making trips around the city months later, Gothamist reported, prompting the push for legislation from the City Council.


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“We want to increase fines to the point that it’s no longer economical for them to keep flouting the law, to just pay the fine and continue to clutter our landscape,”

“We want to increase fines to the point that it’s no longer economical for them to keep flouting the law, to just pay the fine and continue to clutter our landscape,” Levine told the website.

The ad barge was reportedly met with similar displeasure in Miami, where the company originated the concept. The appearance of the barges along that city’s beachfront prompted the Miami Herald to ask whether there is “no space safe from pitches, promos, and pixilation?”

In the newspaper article, published March 21, Ballyhoo CEO Adam Shapiro said his company’s ad boat is “running unimpeded in New York” after he resolved the dispute with the city.

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