For Immediate Release
Los Angeles, Calif. (June 25, 2013) - AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) today prevailed in efforts to allow local charities to advertise on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses, when MTA amended its previous policy that had banned non-profit organizations from advertising their events and public service messages.
In a seven-to-two vote, the MTA board agreed to allow bus ads from non-profits that partner with government entities.
The vote capped a months-long advocacy campaign by APLA and AIDS Walk Los Angeles – with assistance of pro-bono legal counsel from Latham & Watkins, and on-going support from Los Angeles County Supervisor and MTA Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky and his staff.
“We believe the MTA board struck a good balance with this policy change,” said APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson. “Charities need to disseminate critical health promotion messages as well as generate support for large community events like AIDS Walk Los Angeles. On the other hand, we understand MTA needs to both limit the kinds of ads it accepts and reduce its risks of litigation.”
The issue of commercial versus non-commercial advertising on municipal bus and transit lines has focused nationally on whether these venues are public forums, open to all comers, or whether local jurisdictions can restrict advertising without violating free speech rights.
The issue has spread from New York City to Seattle, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Some jurisdictions like the City of Santa Monica have opted for overly narrow rules that ban all non-profits from advertising their fundraising events and public service messages.
“An important public policy objective was achieved today,” said Craig R. Miller, AIDS Walk Los Angeles Founder and Senior Organizer. “Through the collective efforts of APLA, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and AIDS Walk Los Angeles, ads promoting this event, one that is so vital to public health in our region, will be returning to the sides of MTA buses.”
“While we would have preferred a different route, providing equal access and equal restrictions to both charitable and commercial advertisements, this is a reasonable compromise. We are very content with the destination reached here,” Miller added.
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), one of the largest non-profit AIDS service organizations in the United States, provides bilingual direct services, prevention education, and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. In 2013, APLA marks its 30th year of operation and is a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national and global reach. Annually, the agency provides direct services and HIV prevention education to more than 11,000 clients in Los Angeles, a county with the second-largest HIV/AIDS epidemic in the nation. For more information, visit apla.org.
About AIDS Walk Los Angeles: Since 1985, AIDS Walk Los Angeles has raised more than $75 million for HIV programs and services throughout Los Angeles County, and has grown into one of the largest AIDS fundraising events in the country. In 2012 alone, 30,000 participants, many of whom were members of 1,900 corporate and community teams, raised $2.9 million for AIDS Project Los Angeles and 29 other L.A. County AIDS service organizations. For more information, visit aidswalk.net.