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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Hall Reviews Bill on Billboards

City Hall reviewed draft legislation Tuesday aimed at thinning out billboards in downtown Moscow by 20 percent and imposing new regulations on the sizes and prices for the remaining ones.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who signed a decree earlier this month ordering the legislation, sent the draft back to city lawmakers for several revisions. For example, the bill did not lay out a plan for billboard distribution around town or ways to attract advertisers other than alcohol and tobacco firms, which account for a large chunk of outdoor advertising.

Luzhkov told lawmakers to present the revised legislation, which amends a 1999 law on outdoor advertising, for his approval in two weeks.

?Advertisers interests are being trampled when billboards are blocking each other,? Luzhkov said at the City Hall meeting. ?Moreover, the city is not visible behind all these advertisements.?

More than 24,000 billboards and other outdoor ads clutter Moscow?s streets. About 40 percent of the ads are in the city center. The city earns $200 to $300 a month from each billboard.

Luzhkov said at the meeting that the city must stop worrying about money and think more about how the city looks, calling the revenues collected from billboards pennies.

The city earned 520 million rubles ($17.8) in revenues from billboards in 1999, and 808 million rubles in 2000. Revenues are expected to go up by 10 percent in 2001 to 889 million rubles. That amount is just a little more than 0.4 percent of the city?s 2001 budget.

Still, the city will take measures to keep the cash flowing in. Under Luzhkov?s decree, the department of street advertisements, created in 1999 to regulate the outdoor advertising industry, is to ?guarantee the city its revenues by changing ad placement prices accordingly and redirecting advertisement locations to the Moscow Ring Road.?

There was no mention at the meeting Tuesday how much prices may be hiked.

The decree also orders that 20 percent of all billboards on Arbat Square, Leningradskoye Shosse and Kutozovsky and Leninsky prospekts be torn down before Dec. 31.

The new legislation is also to regulate that billboards can be no larger than 10 square meters within the Garden Ring and 18 square meters between the Garden and Moscow ring roads.

?The city should actively participate in deciding where billboards are placed and develop a citywide plan for billboard placement together with the city planning committee,? said Yevgeny Kotov, head of the department of street advertisements. His department currently makes the decisions on its own.

Some deputies voiced concerns about the content of billboard advertisements and expressed disappointment when Kotov explained that censorship was prohibited and content could be regulated only by the Anti-Monopoly Ministry. City Duma Deputy Andrei Shirokov described some ads as ?hard-core erotica bordering on soft-core porn.?