Nature of the Billboard Industry

The billboard industry likes to proclaim its small, local nature.  When a state or local government considers enacting tougher billboard controls, industry lawyers and lobbyists appear at hearings and speak long and loudly about how the government is threatening another small business with extinction.  The reality, however, is quite different.

“I’ve never seen such a @#%!! group of selfish, eager hogs.”
~ President Johnson, referring to the billboard industry, in a call to Congressman Jim Wright  on July 24, 1968.

Nationwide, three huge companies: Lamar, Clear Channel and Outfront (formerly CBS Outdoor), dominate outdoor advertising.  They and their trade groups use a set of standardized tactics to defeat regulation attempts.

Below are a set of resources you can use to counter their tactics.

Billboard Industry Myths & Facts (PDF)
You’ve probably heard many outrageous claims by the billboard industry, but here are some of the industry’s favorite myths.

Industry Tactics to Circumvent Regulation (PDF)
The above is a primer on industry tactics to avoid regulation at the national and local levels.

The “Public Service” Billboard Tactic (PDF)
Donations of free billboard space to charities and public agencies would appear to be a commendable practice by the billboard industry.  However, in the vast majority of cases, these donations are part of a calculated strategy to undermine efforts to control billboards.

The Sign Code Shakedown (PDF)
An attack on the constitutionality of sign laws in small towns and communities can seem like an overwhelming legal battle, but experience has shown that properly equipped cities and counties can successfully combat this sinister strategy.  Above are some fast FAQs on the issue.

The Nature of the Outdoor Advertising Business (PDF)
The purpose of this paper is to provide background to help the reader understand how the industry operates.  Professor Charles F. Floyd articulates the differences between off and on premise signs, and he also delves in the reasoning for the outdoor advertising industry in providing “public service” billboards.