Rival out-of-home titans are fighting over a proposed 20-year digital billboard "monopoly" in Chicago, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
The Chicago City Council is deliberating Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to sign a 20-year digital billboard agreement with a 10-year renewal option with French out-of-home agency JCDecaux, but critics, among them rival out-of-home giant Clear Channel Outdoor, say the move would cost the city millions of dollars a year.
The deal also would give JCDecaux "first right of refusal" on sites for digital billboards chosen by competitors, according to The Sun-Times. Clear Channel Outdoor representatives also questioned "giving a foreign company a monopoly on digital billboards" for potentially 30 years when the industry norm is five- to seven-year deals.
"All of the good spots that are worth it and drive advertisers to locations, JCDecaux will take, and they can veto us trying to get any other good locations. That's a bad thing for the city," said Jim Cullinan, vice president of communications for Clear Channel Outdoors, in the article. "They're leaving money on the table — a couple of million dollars a year — because other companies won't have the incentive to go digital. We won't do it. It doesn't make sense. Right now, we have good locations. We've been there over 50 years. Why give up a good location to go to a substandard location because that's the only location we can get?"
Read more about digital billboards.