Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clear Channel renews effort to bring digital billboards to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — The Billboard War, part two, is about to begin.

Only last August, City Council members narrowly rejected a deal that would remove 80 traditional billboard faces, and replace another six with digital faces — a brighter, more eye-catching form of outdoor advertising.

Leading up to the vote, council members were blitzed on both sides. Industry advocates like Clear Channel Outdoor schmoozed them. Neighborhood activists opposing the deal threatened to remove them from office. The debate lasted hours and, without a strong push by Mayor Bill Foster, the council voted 5-3 against the plan minutes before midnight.

"I caved to the pressure," council member Wengay Newton now admits. "That was the worst vote I ever made." One of the five who voted against the plan, Newton will get a second chance.

The president of Clear Channel Tampa Bay Division told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board on Wednesday that the company will try again this summer. By July, the council might be considering another agreement that would allow the digital signs, said Daniel Dunnivant.

"It's amazing to me that it didn't go through last time," Dunnivant said. "It was partly our fault. We didn't do a great job communicating our side."

This time, Dunnivant says, the company will propose that all 80 current signs come down at once. Last year, the older billboards would come down only as new digital signs went up.

Also, Clear Channel has launched a website,, that explains the company's side of the story. The site says the new signs don't flash or move, showing instead a static image every 10 seconds. The signs are outfitted with dimming devices so they don't burn too bright.

Dunnivant was accompanied by council member Jeff Danner, who supports replacing the old billboards with far fewer digital boards, and Brian Longstreth, a local real estate broker, who said it would be cheaper for small businesses like his to advertise.

Opponents of digital billboards are bracing for a second round.

"We're discussing what we need to do," said Maureen Stafford. "But it's ridiculous that it took less than a year for this to get resurrected."

Clear Channel renews effort to bring digital billboards to St. Petersburg 05/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:02am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pepin daughters to take on Mount Kilimanjaro

    Human Interest

    About seven years ago, Tom Pepin and his four daughters stood at 12,000 feet, overlooking the Colorado Rockies during an outward bound survival training mission.

    From left, Christina Pepin, Lauren Pepin (Tom’s Wife), Cassie Pepin, Allie Pepin, Bella Pepin and Tom Pepin take a break during an outward bound survival training mission in Colorado.
  2. Music, memories, friendships lend energy to 'Senior Prom'


    RIVERVIEW — Mesmerizing music mixed with the mingling of friends to energize and engage a congregation of old souls Thursday (June 22).

    Louise Goff of Brandon does line dances during the annual Senior Prom hosted by Hillsborough County Aging Services at the Regent in Brandon.
  3. Tampa's two 'Olivias' maintain friendship as they vie for Miss Florida


    TAMPA — Olivia Butler, referring to a Biblical passage, assesses her burgeoning friendship with Olivia Fiss as "iron sharpening iron."

    Olivia Butler, left, and Olivia Fiss are two friends who are competing together in the Miss Florida pageant as Miss Tampa and Miss St. Petersburg.
  4. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times