Mexico City to police outdoor advertising

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexico City's outdoor ad vertising will be subject to closer regulation by local authorities who have not enforced many existing rules in the past. But a new city government, which took office in De cember, and representatives from the 16 city districts have signed agreements with two major outdoor ad associations and a leading chamber of industry, which pledged to meet the basic requirement of identifying the owner of the ad space.

By some estimates, 50% of the outdoor boards that crowd the main thoroughfares of this sprawling capital do not meet this re quirement. The Outdoor Publicists Association (APEX) and the Mexican Association of Outdoor Advertising (AMPE) have agreed to do so by the end of March or be subject to fines. The Association of Industries in Outdoor Advertising (AIPE) is expected to join the agreement shortly. However, city officials are also complaining about other violations and overcrowding.

An estimated 4,500 outdoor boards are located within the city limits and about 10,000 in the metropolitan area. According to a university study, roughly 85% of all billboards violate some city rule such as size and distance from other signs. The problem of overcrowding is most acute on major roads, like the Periferico which rings the city, where billboards are lined up one after the other--or on top of each other. The outdoor advertising associations maintain they are not solely to blame, but also complain the regulations currently on the books are obsolete. Many property owners are more concerned with the monthly rental fee, and billboards spring up over night without necessary permits.

The city assembly's urban development commission has called for mandatory in surance and stricter controls to preserve the city's image and to prevent "outdoor anarchy."

Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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