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.
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.