Dec. 23, 2010
Citing potential for disruption to transit service, Executive implements interim Metro policy restricting new non-commercial advertising on buses
Escalation of global interest in ad critical of Israel raises risk of service disruption; Metro rejects ad and response ads
Citing the potential for disruption to transit service, King County Executive Dow Constantine today approved an interim policy from Metro Transit that calls for a halt to the acceptance of any new non-commercial advertising on King County buses. Under provisions of the previous policy, Metro officials today also rejected a proposed ad from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign and the proposed response ads from two other groups.
"The escalation of this issue from one of 12 local bus placards to a widespread and often vitriolic international debate introduces new and significant security concerns that compel reassessment," said Executive Constantine.
"My job is to deliver essential services to the people of King County, including transit service," he added. "I have consulted with federal and local law enforcement authorities who have expressed concern, in the context of this international debate, that our public transportation system could be vulnerable to disruption.
"Metro sells advertising to raise revenues to provide transit service. Metro's existing policy restricts advertising that can be reasonably foreseen to result in harm to, disruption of, or interference with the transportation system. Given the dramatic escalation of debate in the past few days over these proposed ads, and the submission of inflammatory response ads, there is now an unacceptable risk of harm to or disruption of service to our customers should these ads run."
In light of the recent escalation of events, Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond today asked his advertising consultant to notify the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign that Metro is rejecting its proposed ad, and for the consultant to notify the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the American Freedom Defense Initiative that Metro will not accept their proposed ads, as posing an unacceptable risk of harm to, disruption of, or interference with bus service, as defined under current policies.
In response to the Executive's directive on Monday to review current policies, Desmond today also recommended an interim transit advertising policy that adds non-commercial ads to the list of current restrictions, with an exception for governmental entities that advance specific government purposes. Non-commercial ads that met the previous policy and for which contracts have already been signed are not affected, and ads already in place will remain.
"We cannot and would not favor one point of view over another, so the entire category of non-commercial advertising will be eliminated until a permanent policy can be completed that I can propose to the King County Council for adoption," said the Executive. "Further work during the coming weeks will help determine what constitutionally-valid policy is best for the safety and well-being of the transit-riding public, our drivers and personnel, and the community at large.
"I thank everyone who has reached out to us to express their interests on this matter."
Metro expects to complete work on a permanent transit advertising policy by the end of January, for the Executive to transmit to the County Council for adoption.