Don’t Believe the Robocalls; Electronic Billboards Aren’t Coming Back Next Year

clear channel billboard

Yesterday, residents throughout Los Angeles reported receiving robocalls from an unknown source thanking their local City Councilmember for his work in helping electronic billboards get back to Los Angeles’ streets. So far, SBLA has word that the disinformation has targeted four Councilmembers: Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz, and David Ryu.

“Is this Crazy Troll Week? Or is there a competition for telling nutty lies?” Bonin wrote on Facebook. “Anonymous robocalls are accusing me and other members of the council’s strongly ANTI-billboard caucus of promoting Vegas-style digital billboards.”

It is probably not a coincidence that the targeted members are four of the most anti-electronic-billboard members in the city council. But either way, the calls are a marvel of misinformation. One reader used a transcription service to forward SBLA the text of the call:

Hey sorry we missed you. I’m calling to let you know your neighborhood will be the first in L.A. to have large Vegas-style video billboards installed at every major intersection. Companies Clear Channel, Out Front, and Lemar are very happy to bring large live motion digital advertising to your area.

We want to thank your Councilman Mike Bonin* for his overwhelming support of this bill and rushing through regulation so we can start putting up billboards in your community by 2020. We hope you will contact him, thank him for his support, and let him know how great these signs will be for your community. Have a great day.

So let’s take a look at each of these claims.

“I’m calling to let you know your neighborhood will be the first in L.A. to have large Vegas-style video billboards installed installed at every major intersection.”

Electronic billboards have been illegal in Los Angeles on public property for years, in large part due to work by Bonin and Koretz a half-dozen years ago. Currently, Blumenfield is pushing legislation to ban electronic billboards on personal private property.

“We want to thank your Councilman Mike Bonin for his overwhelming support of this bill and rushing through regulation so we can start putting up billboards in your community by 2020.”

Again, the four targeted members are all on record opposing electronic billboards. Earlier this year, the council voted on a resolution allowing the city to study the benefits and costs of allowing an expanded billboard program. Only Mike Bonin voted against the resolution.

Is this a one-shot attack, lying about the Councilmembers’ records to sow confusion? Is this the start of a new legislative battle over electronic billboards?

SBLA will update this story as we discover more.

Oddly, the reader who sent the transcript lives in Koretz’s Council District 5, not Bonin’s Council District 11.

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