JALAN Syed Putra is not only renowned for its congestion, but is a highly sought-after location for billboards.
But, curiously, among the many billboards that dot this busy stretch, there are quite a few that advertising events that are long past their dates.
For instance, there is a huge billboard splashed in yellow that is looking a little faded and not just a bit worn-out.
It features a photography event that happened more than a year ago.
An old billboard in Jalan Syed Putra is an eyesore and DBKL can compel the owner or operator to replace it with information promoting public campaigns.
There are similar billboards along other major roads in the city showing events and exhibitions that have long been over.
According to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Socio-Economic Development Department executive director Datuk Ibrahim Yusof said, it is neither illegal nor wrong for billboards to display outdated advertisements in the city.
According to DBKL outdated billboards advertising expired events are not illegal.
He said they did not contravene the Advertisements (Federal Territory) 1982 by-laws.
“Time-bound billboards are not illegal.
“Billboard contracts typically run for three years, irrespective of whether the event advertised is over or not, as long as the permit is paid. During that period the billboard belongs to the operator.
“However, if the events being advertised ended two years ago or longer, then DBKL would usually advise the billboard owner to replace it with civic messages or information to publicise campaigns run by the Government.
This billboard advertising an event that took place in January is yet to be replaced.
“We cannot compel them to remove the old advertisements but we will send a friendly reminder to the companies.”
“The messages could be on the ‘Love Kuala Lumpur’ campaign or gentle reminders to city folk to pay their assessment fees and information on the upcoming SEA Games,” he added.
Case for action
“But if the billboard has become an eyesore or is left blank, DBKL can compel the owner or operator to remove the unsightly visual and replace it with civic messages promoting public campaigns,” said Ibrahim.
DBKL can give owners of blank billboards 14 days to replace them with civic messages or announcements.
“We will give them 14 days notice to replace it with a civic message or announcement.
“If they fail to act, we will give them one more week as a final warning to bring down the structure.
“If they still ignore us, we will cancel their permit, confiscate the deposit and dismantle the structure that will then be auctioned as scrap metal,” he said.
Security deposits range between RM3,000 and RM30,000 depending on the billboard size.
Law and order
Ibrahim said the local authority’s law on free-standing advertisements was outdated as it was last reviewed 15 years ago.
“The current law is not favourable to us, but now is not the time to review it; it is something that we are looking into changing when the time is right,” he disclosed.
Based on statistics until Dec 31, 2016, there are 681 legal billboards in Kuala Lumpur including free standing (on ground), overhead pedestrian bridges, flyover parapet, wall banners, sky sign, gantry ads, pillar wraps and LED ads.
Time-bound billboards are not illegal as long as permits are paid.
However, industry sources estimate the number of free-standing billboards in the city to be in the thousands.
DBKL is currently carrying out a census to streamline all billboard advertisements in the city to identify the legal from the illegal ones.
The licensing fee for billboards is dependent upon its size. The first square metre is RM500 and every subsequent metre is RM80.
Unlike most city councils for which billboards are a major revenue earner, the potential revenue for DBKL is small. Its income from billboard licensing last year was only RM4mil.
Ibrahim pointed out that billboard operators did not want to spend money on removing outdated advertisements without a new client.
Billboard advertising company VR Globalink director Rebecca Ng said the onus was on media owners to take responsibility and promptly remove any outdated advertisement on their billboards once the tenure period has expired.
However, she is of the opinion that DBKL should also carry out enforcement to encourage billboard owners to be more responsive.
“The reality is that companies leave outdated advertisements on their billboards to avoid incurring extra costs,” she stated.
The way forward
DBKL has privatised the management of free-standing billboard contracts to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP), the welfare arm of the Federal Territories Ministry, since last year.
Under the deal, DBKL receives revenue from rental of the site, visuals and 35% in profit-sharing from the rental of permit.
Ibrahim said the decision to privatise (billboard licensing) was in response to the revelation of weaknesses in the local authority’s data collection system.
In 2013, the Auditor-General reported that DBKL’s licensing process was inadequately managed. Following that report, a Public Accounts Committee was established to address the issue.
DBKL was chided for not collecting an estimated RM128mil in advertising licence revenue up to the end of 2013.
According to the Audit Department, the estimated overall proceeds between 2010 and 2013 were RM62mil but DBKL only collected RM52mil.
It was suggested that lax enforcement and shoddy management system for the collection of revenue from advertisements and billboards resulted in the shortfall.
TAGS / KEYWORDS:Central Region , KL Billboard Ads