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A need to regulate the business of billboards

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Large outdoor digital billboards with their colourful, full-motion videos and scrolling text messages, are now commonplace along busy roadways and shopping areas across the country. As a means of advertising, they are very effective, with bright and eye-catching displays, capable of conveying multiple messages at once. But the technology which makes these systems so successful—high-resolution LED and LCD screens—can also make these state-of-the-art advertising billboards a distraction. It is all a matter of placement.

There are concerns that the bright colours, lights and large fonts of digital billboards make it difficult for passing drivers to focus on anything else. In fact, they are considered by some to be a form of visual pollution. That is one reason why the latest electronic billboards, erected around the Queen’s Park Savannah near St Clair Circle and on the grounds of Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, have not been as well received as the ones along the highways. Located as they are near the city’s most prized green spaces—the Savannah, Botanical Gardens and the picturesque Lady Chancellor Hill—they don’t blend in. Instead, they are very intrusive and distracting.


It is bad enough that one of the government ministries that should be protecting T&T’s green spaces, the Ministry of Food Production, which has as one of its agencies the Horticultural Division, is responsible for the St Clair Circle billboard. Even more alarming is that it was put up without permission, and approval is being sought retroactively from the Town and Country Planning Division.


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