Newsstand Advertising -- Do LCD Screens Equal Blight?

To newsstand owners in the city, the ability to add a 24-inch flat panel LCD screen for advertising is a chance to make more money as newspaper and cigarette sales decline.

To SCRUB, an anti-blight group, legislation to allow the newsstand screens would open up the city to lawsuits from billboard companies "in their quest to colonize the public space."

Council's Committee on Streets and Services is now considering both sides of that argument.

John Rocco, president of the Newsstand Association of Philadelphia told the Committee that 20 percent of the city's 120 newsstands may be out of business in five years if the legislation does not pass. "Basically our sales are flat or down," he added.

Mary Tracy of SCRUB urged the committee to drop the legislation and scale back newsstand advertising already allowed by the city.

UPDATE, 12:07 pm -- Councilman Frank DiCicco just suggested holding the legislation, which he had introduced. The delay would give newsstand owners and the Center City District to address concerns about making newsstands uniform downtown and standards for cleaning up graffiti.

Councilman Bill Green suggested approving the legislation in committee and amending it later. DiCicco agreed.  The committee approved the bill, sending it to the full Council for a vote.