Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Why we need courts

The Los Angeles Times provides more details about the dispute between Project Billboard and Clear Channel. (See Can billboard owners reject political ads? for my earlier comments.)

According to the report in the LA Times, a Clear Channel spokesman has said,
"We have no objection to the text. We have absolutely no political agenda."
The same spokesman also said,
"[W]e've agreed to the copy, subject to Marriott approval."
So the first question is whether the Clear Channel contract with Marriott actually give Marriott veto rights over ads on that billboard. That should be simple enough to determine. Just look at the contract. That certainly can be established in court.

Assuming Clear Channel's contract with Marriott does give Marriott veto power, the second question is whether Clear Channel made that condition known to Project Billboard last December when the two of them signed a contract for the use of the billboard. Project BillBoard said no such condition was included in the contract. In fact, Project Billboard has filed suit requiring Clear Channel to comply with what Project Billboard says is in the contract.

At this level it seems fairly straightforward and something that courts are good at deciding.

A broader issue is whether the quasi-monopoly created by limited billboard space should be subject to restrictions of this sort. But Project Billboard has not to my knowledge raised this issue.

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