Strict rules for new Charlotte transit ads (Updated)

The Charlotte Observer reports this morning on new changes to public transit advertising. CATS had prohibited ads on most of its buses and trains but voted yesterday to allow them. The move could bring in an estimated $4.7 million over the next five years.

But, non-profit groups or those businesses that might be advertising anything related to “human sexuality” won’t be allowed. The Observer reports:

- - - advertisement - - -

The transit system’s current policy of only allowing for-profit companies to advertise will remain, and political ads, ads for alcohol or tobacco products, and ads about human reproduction or sexuality won’t be accepted.

As reported by The Observer, the rules seem vague and open to abuse. Could an LGBT-owned restaurant or coffee shop place ads reaching out to the LGBT community? What about LGBT nightclubs or events? Heck, what about qnotes? Or, would all of these fall under the “human sexuality” prohibition?

qnotes will look into it today and get back to you.

UPDATE (Sept. 24, 2010, 10:54 p.m.):

Staff here took some time to contact CATS spokesperson Jean Leier. We asked three fairly straightforward questions:

- - - advertisement - - -

1. Would advertising be allowed from lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) owned businesses (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops, nightclubs, event promoters, or even this newspaper)?
2. If such advertising were designed to reach out to LGBT customers/consumers (e.g., clearly identifying the business as LGBT-owned or picturing an image of a same-sex couple) would the advertising be allowed?
3. Do you have a copy of the advertising regulations/policies/procedures you could send me?

Ms. Leier’s response:

Matt: Good morning. Attached is the advertising policy you requested and the presentation from Wednesday night. This should answer your questions below. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Except… CATS’ policies and regulations on advertising don’t come anywhere near answering qnotes‘ questions. In fact, they only further our need for direct answers to the initial questions.

Our last response to Ms. Leier, complete with a reiteration of those original questions (which have, as of yet, gone unanswered):

Thanks. But, the policies and regulations only further the need for direct answers to my previous questions.

The following from the policies are vague and open to interpretation and could be used to deny advertising to LGBT-owned or LGBT-targeted advertising:
“It does not include advertising that both offers to sell property or services and also conveys information about matters of general interest, political issues, religious, moral, or environmental matters or issues, or other public matters or issues, or expresses or advocates opinions or positions upon any of the foregoing.”
…and…
“c. Advertising for products or services related to human reproduction or sexuality, including but not limited to contraceptive products or services, other products or services related to sexual hygiene, and counseling with regard to pregnancy, abortion, or other sexual matters.
d. Advertising for products, services, or entertainment directed to sexual stimulation.”

So…

1. Would advertising be allowed from lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) owned businesses (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops, nightclubs, event promoters, or even this newspaper)?
2. If such advertising were designed to reach out to LGBT customers/consumers (e.g., clearly identifying the business as LGBT-owned or picturing an image of a same-sex couple) would the advertising be allowed?

- - - advertisement - - -

Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.