Digital Billboard settlement approved

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The Tampa City Council passed a resolution with a 5-2 vote today approving a settlement agreement between the City of Tampa and CBS, as well as Clear Channel, regarding billboard issues. The amendment marks the end of a long legal contention between the company and the City of Tampa.

While neighborhood groups and environmentalists have opposed the presence of digital billboards, CBS and clear channel have long fought against the removal of some of their 1,300 billboards throughout Tampa. Pam Iorio has separated the digital billboard ordinance from traditional billboard issues. Resident Ethel Hammer said the proposal didn’t go far enough, and asked for more public input in the process..

The settlement agreements with CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel Outdoor are a result of a lawsuit by the companies, which argued that Tampa created new rules forcing them to remove some billboards but did not allow them to be relocated. Julia Cole from Clear Channel’s legal department defended the settlement.

Councilmember Mary Mulhern opposed the resolution, seeing the signs as a possible roadside distraction.

Councilmember John Dingfelder voted for the resolution, pointing out that it simply moves the resolution to settlement, without any final decision

The settlements will now move to the Hillsborough County Circuit Court for final approval. Council members will hold a workshop Dec. 3 to discuss Pam Iorio’s proposal to limit digital displays to 40 citywide. CBS and Clear Channel have agreed to pay the city $25,000 to cover its legal expenses.