Privatization and Advertising in Public Space The fight to take over the world has begun. This fight is between big corporate companies and their race to take over the most public space and plaster it with their advertisements or just simply control it. In this paper I will examine a variety of opinions on how they have invaded public space and if this invasion is benefiting the public or not. In some cases when big companies come take over in a public location it can be positive.
Shea Stadium, although it was not exactly public, was greatly improved when Citigroup bought it and rebuilt the park. It improved the viewing experience at the Mets games and Citigroup gets publicity because people associate the park with them. Many people say that this sort of privatization by a big company can have numerous positive effects for people who use the space. Boston’s South Station has also been privatized in recent years. “The MBTA entered into a ground lease with Beacon South Station Associates, a wholly owned entity of Beacon Properties Corporation, on January 28, 1988”.
The MBTA still uses the station for the trains and buses but the company that leases it can set its own rules for within the space and has the right to sell advertising space within the station. Although commuters can still use the space for travel purposes the space is no longer public. During Occupy Boston the protesters peacefully assembled in South Station when the weather became colder but were asked to leave by police because there were not allowed to congregate there per rules of the company leasing the space.
According so Una Spencer, an activist and protester during the occupy movement, “everywhere we are encountering “public” spaces which we are told are under control of private companies”. She also mentions that’s our taxes are being used to police these areas that are owned by private companies. Spenser is “seeing is a chipping away of our civil rights from many directions” and our tax dollars are paying the police who keep us from practicing these rights.
David Morris, co-founder and vice president of Institute for Local Self-Reliance, brings forward the idea that companies should “compete on an equal footing, and where those with the most money do not necessarily speak in the loudest voice. ” Sometimes companies with the most money are able to get their name out more that a smaller company through advertising. By having ads plastered around a city, a consumer is more likely to choose that company’s product than a smaller company. He believes that by seeing ads for specific companies stifles our ability to choose freely between different things.
Morris believes in having public spaces where people within a community can congregate that is free of commercialism where people can share ideas. In Sao Paulo, Brazil people are in agreement with ideas similar to Morris’s and laws are being put into place to remove advertising. Larry Rohter, American journalist, covered the decision in Sao Paulo, Brazil to remove all advertising from the city. Sao Paulo is South America’s largest and most prosperous city and there has been much controversy over the law.
Rohter quotes Brazilian columnist Roberto Pompeu de Toledo saying the law “is a rare victory of the public interest over private, of order over disorder, aesthetics over ugliness, of cleanliness over trash. ” One controversy over this law is that people who work for companies creating advertising may lose jobs. Big companies who’s advertisements will be taken down are claiming “consumers will be less informed in their purchasing decisions and even that streets will be less safe at night with the loss of illumination from signs. Not only would the law ban billboards, but it would also ban ads on buses, blimps, and plains, and restrict the size of signs that stores would be allowed to have. Rohter reported one women in Sao Paulo saying “the truth is that there are so many banners, billboards, placards, signs, and posters all over the place that they’ve lost their impact. ” The mayor or Sao Paulo talks about bringing advertising back in the future, but with many restrictions and limitations. The city will become “an outdoor metropolis with no outdoor advertising. The Internet is another place that has become a common ground for advertising. Facebook used to be a free online community created by a group of college kids. Initially Facebook was supposed to be free of advertisements and that set it apart from other social networking sites. Now, not only does Facebook have advertisements, the advertisements are tailor made to each user based on that person’s likes and activities posted on their profile. On my Facebook is see ads for snowboard websites because I have the posted as one of my activities.
Facebook says it needs to have ads because it keeps Facebook free for users. They say it’s also beneficial for advertisers because the right group of people will see their ads. The Internet is just another place where companies are fighting to broadcast to more customers. Along with the Internet, companies also have influence in restaurants, a place where we may not have even suspected it. Have you ever been to a restaurant and when you ordered a coke and the waitress asks, “is Pepsi ok? This is because restaurants have deals with soda companies and they “receive additional benefits when they decide to be exclusive. ” By having restaurants that are exclusive the soda company theoretically has won that restaurant over and all the customers in that restaurant. It’s like a war to see which soda companies can have the most restaurants exclusively sell their soda. After careful consideration of all these opinions I cannot say I have come to a final conclusion on advertising in public space. I can see how in some cases advertising and privatization have gone overboard.
Losing our ability to congregate in South Station seems a little absurd to me because our tax dollars are paying to enforce laws that are keeping us out of a once public space. However, what would a place like Time Square in New York City be without its huge glowing billboards and signs? And in Sao Paulo they are outlawing blimps as a part of the anti-billboard law, and I think of Boston’s Hood blimp that I can see on the skyline from my dorm room window. Is it really such an obstruction to public space? I don’t think so. And it also doesn’t affect what milk I choose to drink because I still am not a big fan of hood milk.
In my opinion the best solution would be to haves stricter laws about advertising and privatization. I think Time Square would lose all its magic if the ads were to be taken off the buildings but in places like schools advertising should really be obsolete. As for privatization, I think if a public space is going to be privatized then public dollars should not be used in that space in any way. In South Station the Transit Police should not be enforcing rules put in place by a private organization when it is tax dollars paying the transit police, not the company.
I think it’s a pretty fine line and it is the responsibility of government officials to get the balance between public space, advertising, and privatization right. Bibliography “Advertising on Facebook. ” Facebook. 2 Oct 2012. https://www. facebook. com/about/ads/ Morris, David. “Curbing the Commercialization of Public Space. ” Institute for Local Self-Reliance. 15 Jan 2009. 2 Oct 2012. http://www. ilsr. org/curbing-commercialization-public-space/ Rohter, Larry. “Streets are Paved with Neon’s Glare, and City Calls a Halt. ” New York Times. 2 Dec 2006. 2 Oct 2012. ://www. nytimes. com/2006/12/12/world/Americas/12paulo. html? pagewanted=print&_r=0 Spenser, Una. “Occupy Boston: the Privatizing of Public Spaces. ” Daily Kos. 30 Oct 2011. 2 Oct 2012. http://www. dailykos. com/story/2011/10/30/1031512/-Occupy-Boston-the-privatizing-of-public-spaces “Why Aren’t Coke and Pepsi Sold Together at Restaurants? ” Xatal. 12 Mar 2009. 2 Oct 2012. http://xatal. com/miscellaneous/why-arent-coke-and-pepsi-sold-together-at-restaurants/ ——————————————– [ 1 ].
Una Spenser. “Occupy Boston: the Privatizing of Public Spaces. ” Daily Kos. 30 Oct 2011. 2 Oct 2012. http://www. dailykos. com/story/2011/10/30/1031512/-Occupy-Boston-the-privatizing-of-public-spaces [ 2 ]. Una Spenser. “Occupy Boston: the Privatizing of Public Spaces. ” Daily Kos. 30 Oct 2011. 2 Oct 2012. http://www. dailykos. com/story/2011/10/30/1031512/-Occupy-Boston-the-privatizing-of-public-spaces [ 3 ]. Ibid [ 4 ]. David Morris. “Curbing the Commercialization of Public Space. ” Institute for Local Self-Reliance. 15 Jan 2009. 2 Oct 2012.
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