Floating Billboard Spotted In NYC Rivers Comes Under Fire

January 04, 2019 - 12:22 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A huge floating billboard spotted in New York City's waterways is catching the attention of local officials.

The 60-foot wide floating ad first appeared in the fall.

"This has certainly caught everyone's eye on both sides of the water -- Manhattan and Brooklyn -- but we were just surprised to not only see it but that there was no regulation against it," said Trever Holland, a tenant represenative omn the Lower East Side.

The giant LED screens advertising everything from movies to beer are a giant eyesore, says Brooklyn City Councilman Justin Brannan, who is worried about more companies getting on board with waterway advertising.

"The New York Harbor is not Times Square and I think our waterways for a myriad of reasons should be off limits," said Brannan.

Cheers to the unexpected -- @heineken • • • #cheers #heineken #beer #outofhome #outofhomeadvertising #ooh #dooh #oohadvertising #outdooradvertising #outofhomemedia #ballyhoomedia #ballyhooboats #ballyhoonyc

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And they are, according to the City Law Department, which sent a letter this week to Ballyhoo Media, the company that operates the billboard, threatening fines of up to $25,000 a day.

"It appears pretty clear that these barges are not allowed, so I think now it's just going to be a matter of enforcing that," said Brannan, who also wants the billboard barge gone for safety reasons. "In addition to the barges being ugly and obnoxious and likely illegal, I think they're dangerous to drivers who are already distracted."

In a statement, the company's founder Adam Shapiro says they are not in violation of any laws and looks forward to working with the city on a solution.

Environmental activist Marcy Benstock, director of the Clean Air Campaign's Open Rivers Project, said the barge violates federal law.

"Federal Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 were both passed to protect public waterways from being misused for things like this Times Square on the Hudson project," she said.

The electronic ads were deemed a nuisance in Miami Beach, but officials there failed in their efforts to ban them in 2017.