Metro's Advertising Rules Allows Easy Censorship, Removal of Gay Pride Ad Latest

pride st louis metro.jpg
The Pride St. Louis banner as it appears on Metro's website.
In the end, Metro admits it screwed up. The St. Louis public transit agency should never have removed advertisements from its buses for this month's gay pride festival, PrideFest 2012.

It was unclear yesterday just how many Pride St. Louis advertisements disappeared from Metro buses this week after a transit employee questioned whether the banners violated the agency's advertising policy. A Metro spokeswoman described the removal of the ads as a miscommunication and promised they'd be back on buses a.s.a.p.

As Riverfront Times has reported before, self-censorship of advertisements by Metro is nothing new thanks to the agency's overly broad restrictions.

In 2010 the transit agency pulled ads for Soulard's Octoberfest much to the dismay of the beer festival's organizers. And while the Octoberfest banners did contain copious amounts of cleavage that could perhaps be interpreted to violate Metro's advertising policy No. 11 (prohibiting "nudity...or materials which otherwise depict sexual activities, conduct, excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse") its unknown how the relatively tame PrideFest banner could offend Metro.

But then when you take a look at Metro's lengthy list of sixteen (!) restrictions in its "Advertising Standards and Guidelines", it becomes clear that it can ban nearly any advertisement. Prohibited from Metro's buses and MetroLink are any ads dealing with politics, tobacco, "adult" entertainment and advertisements containing graphic violence or a message intending to mock or demean a religious or ethnic group.

Then there is restriction No. 14: "Metro shall not display or maintain any advertisement that contains material which is likely to offend, discomfort, or annoy Metro customers, or make them feel unwelcome, unsafe, or uncomfortable."

Talk about a catch-all! Would an ad for PrideFest offend, discomfort or annoy a homophobe? Maybe. But does that mean it needs to be banned? Far from it.

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F.D. Stanley
F.D. Stanley

Our St. Louis Metro administrators are the kings of ridiculousness... Didn't care when a bus nearly ran over me a few years ago as I was crossing the street with the light in a crosswalk in broad sunny daylight. Don't grasp the concept of when the buses and trains are at the same place at the same time, customers are supposed to be given the time to get from one to the other. I very often watch the buses leave before people have adequate time to get off the train, which leaves people sitting on their thumbs for an hour here in the metro east. This happens even after having another recent conversation with Metro Customer Service administrators, so you know that customer concerns go uncared about or passed along to the upper admin... When I recently spent about 40 mins on the phone talking to a Metro administrator and asked isn't the point of the trains & buses being at the same place at the same time so people can jump from one to the other, he said "Not nescessarily".  What???!!!  The drivers even look at you angrily when they have to wait for you to get off the train to a bus... One shouldn't have to run, how the elderly or infirmed supposed to get from a train to a bus in one minute...Also when you present significant problems to the administrators, they don't grasp the importance of bringing the concerns to the uppermost Metro administration. Don't care that their internet trip finder is a bad joke or that published schedules aren't adhered to... Yesterday (Sat 6/9) it would have had me get off the metrolink to take a bus to the Shiloh-Scott M-link station (The train still goes there on Sat's, right???) that wasn't going to have a bus there to take me home!!! Don't care that there is no real customer service available to people at the metro east m-link stops, their Information boxes only call security, not customer service and the security people want you to just call customer service, which isn't available after hours (that they already know when they tell you that and why is there no evening/night or weekend customer service when the trains/buses run till 11pm or midnight?), so they are no real help either... I have been telling them about problems since '09 and nothing has been done about anything I have brought to their attention... Evidently because they really don't care about their customers or concerns...

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