Ad dispute delays bicycle plan
Geneva’s hopes of copying Paris and Lyon with a free bike rental system are on hold as a US company challenges the city’s way of handling advertising.
Photo: AFP | A Vélib "station" in Paris: The system allows users to borrow a bike for free for up to 30 minutes at a time.
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A plan to launch a free bicycle system in Geneva has been held up by a dispute over advertising. Vélib’ in Paris offers thousands of bikes to users at hundreds of hire points through a program financed by a private company in return for a share of revenue from advertising billboards, signs and other formats throughout the city. Geneva wants to follow this model, offering a monopoly on advertising in the city in return for the provision of 500 bikes available at 40 “stations” and a payment of more than SFr1 million.
SGA, a company with links to the French firm JC Decaux, currently has an exclusive contract to provide advertising in Geneva. (JC Decaux currently finances the Vélib’ system in Paris). But Clear Channel, a media conglomerate based in the US that is competing with SGA for the future advertising rights, has launched legal action against the city saying its requirements are anti-competitive. A lawyer for the company said the city’s requirements to provide bikes and a large grant are “exorbitant” and favor SGA.
The city’s contract with SGA expires at the end of the year. The dispute with Clear Channel likely means this contract will be extended in the short-term and that a new long-term agreement is not seen until 2009. All this means that Geneva’s Vélib’ system will likely not be introduced until 2010 at the earliest.
This is the part that gets to me:
"A lawyer for the company said the city’s requirements to provide bikes and a large grant are “exorbitant” and favor SGA. "