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posted: 3/19/2010 12:01 AM

No sex, politics or religion in proposed RTA ads

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Yes, the Regional Transportation Authority is hard up for cash, but there are some things it just won't do for money.

That would include allowing ads for "gentlemen's clubs" on its Web site.

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The issue came up as RTA board members discussed raising needed funds by allowing advertisements on its Web site and "GoRoo" trip planner site.

Officials held off approving a three-year contract with Chicago-based Municipal Media Solutions Thursday, saying they wanted more details, such as how to deny undesirable advertisers without legal problems.

"My concern is this is an unknown program. Who will oversee it?" RTA Director Pat Durante of Addison asked, adding the agency didn't want ads saying "take the Blue Line to Heavenly Bodies" on its Web site.

RTA staff said they had worked with Municipal Media Solutions to draw up guidelines to keep inappropriate commercials off the Web site. The issue caused legal trouble for the Chicago Transit Authority last year for banning ads for a video game because of its adult content.

But the concern isn't just confined to risque material, board members noted, saying that political or religious advertising were problematic for any government agency.

"We want guidelines in an election year and in a redistricting year or we'll run into real problems," Director Judy Baar Topinka said.

Municipal Media Solutions CEO Bob Hoyler acknowledged that sorting out appropriate ad content was doable but difficult - "it's one giant pain" - and that was why his firm was one of only two bids the RTA received.

Another sticking point for directors was the fact the contract doesn't include how much the RTA will get from the partnership. Instead the terms are for Municipal Media Solutions to keep 30 percent of ad revenues and the RTA gets the remaining 70 percent.

Staff members said the recession has made the advertising market volatile and difficult to predict how much money the agency could make.

The issue will be discussed again in April.

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