UTA Keeps Ban Against Accepting Political Ads

UTA Keeps Ban Against Accepting Political Ads

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Transit Authority has decided to preserve its ban against political ads in buses -- a prohibition originally adopted amid pre-Olympics fear of embarrassing controversy.

Despite needing to make up almost $1 million in projected advertising revenue, the Utah Transit Authority board voted down recently a proposal to accept "noncommercial" advertising.

The proposal would have opened ad space to candidates, political action groups and activists.

Instead, the UTA will to continue to accept only ads that promote a product.

The UTA has not allowed political ads since 1999.

UTA spokeswoman Andrea Packer said the ban was adopted in anticipation of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, when board members were concerned that some groups might push some controversial matters.

UTA general manager John Inglish said the UTA has lost almost $1 million in advertising revenue from last year due to the sluggish economy.

Revenue for 2004 was projected for about $1.65 million, and Inglish said noncommercial ads could pull in an additional 10 to 15 percent.

However, some board members feared the UTA could become caught in the middle of controversy over an ad.

"I don't know if we should be involved in partisan politics in any way," said board member Richard Alsop, who feared the repercussions should a candidate accuse the UTA of not being fair.

Alsop also said that political aids may not be appropriate, since the UTA is funded in bulk by tax money.

Board member Liane Stillman said allowing one controversial ad aboard a bus would open the door for other such ads, and it would then be for the UTA to reject any.

The UTA also rejects alcohol, tobacco and sexually explicit ads.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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