(CN) – Los Angeles did not violate the First Amendment when it contracted for advertising at its transit stops while banning off-site advertising everywhere else, the 9th Circuit ruled.
The city has entered into exclusive contracts with companies since 1987 to advertise on transit shelters in exchange for annual payments and the installation of the facilities. CBS-Decaux LLC is the most recent contractor.
The city reached a similar agreement with another company in 1999 for the installation of bus benches with advertisements.
In 2002, the city passed an ordinance banning commercial signs that direct attention to a business when the signs are not located at that business.
Metro Lights LLC, a New York company operating in several U.S. markets, was cited several times for installing new off-site signs. Metro Lights sued and won partial summary judgment on its First Amendment claims that the city’s own practices did not match its sign ordinance.
Judge O’Scannlain of the San Francisco-based federal appeals court overturned the decision.
“The district court failed to account for the fact that the city’s plan allowed it to supervise a more concentrated supply of offsite signage,” the judge wrote, “which plausibly contributes to its interest in visual coherence as part of aesthetic quality.”