The Globe & Mail reports today on the move towards aggregating the muddle of newspaper boxes on our public streets. Although it is always good to get rid of clutter the article points out some of the issues that are connected to this seemingly good thing:
The conglomerated superboxes could potentially limit the freedom to distribute the press:
“If you can only have [the box] in certain locations and the locations are controlled, there is a severe restriction on being able to distribute news,” said Stan Mukuch, a lawyer representing the association.
Public space is a valuable commodity for competing advertisers:
But Mr. Sutton said the Tribune has lost a key advertising vehicle by having to shelve its trademark blue and white boxes.
While Viacom is gaining advertising space – the newspapers are losing it. Viacom is insinuating itself into the public realm by offering a pseudo public benefit: the uncluttering of our streets. Similarly Eucan offers the public good of garbage collection in return for advertising space. Ironically newspapers rely on advertising to exist and have to produce content as a business. Advertising distributors like Viacom and Eucan are in the business of securing visibility and the public realm is their territory of occupation.