Lost amidst the recent financial negativity from last Wednesday’s MTA Board Meeting was the announcement of a possible partnership between themselves & CNN. Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News has the brief story:
Coming soon to a subway platform near you: Wolf Blitzer.
The MTA is exploring a partnership with CNN to install TV screens tuned to the cable news channel at various train and subway stations around the city.
CNN has TV screens in departure lounges in 42 airports. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s pilot program would install TV screens in six stations later this year to see how the idea goes over.
“We haven’t determined the stations yet but we’re thinking of a mix of commuter rail, subway and maybe a bus station,” said MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin.
News, features and sports scores would run on a loop for waiting straphangers. The MTA also could broadcast transit information.
CNN will provide the equipment and the pilot project won’t cost the MTA anything.
If it works out, the MTA hopes to receive significant revenue from the network, which would sell ads on its subway network. “We have 5 million customers per day. That’s a lot of eyeballs,” Soffin said.
In the era of TiVo and DVDs, TV advertisers are desperate to find new captive audiences.
Many New York City cabs have TV screens installed.
In 2005, Atlanta’s MARTA became the first transit system to install flat-screen TVs displaying news and ads with closed captioning.
For starters I applaud the MTA’s initiative to bring better technology to our transit system. I will also applaud them for exploring a partnership that would benefit them overall without having to spend any out of pocket costs. However that is where my applause stops.
While I am for bringing better technology to our system, I question the timing for such initiatives. At a time where they face deficits that can possibly bring the system down, now is not the time to explore partnerships that don’t help with the here & now. The agency’s finances are so bad that any & all initiatives should be focused on getting out of our financial crisis. When the finances start to show improvement then & only then should they look into initiatives that are luxuries as compared to necessities.
xoxo Transit Blogger