The city of Melbourne has knocked back 81 advertising applications on Telstra’s new giant payphones, with the phone company set to lose millions from the decision.
The new payphones, fitted with 75” coloured LCD screens are 2.7m high and 1.2m wide — 600mm taller and 400mm wider than the older phone booths — and can show up to four advertisements per minute, did not receive a warm reception from the City of Melbourne town hall.
The City of Melbourne is taking the case to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and will ask for it to rule that the new payphones should require planning approval.
Under current laws, planning approval is not required for phone booths because they meet the “low-impact facility” criteria and Melbourne City council couldn’t legally refuse the booths going up, despite being opposed to them.
JCDecaux submitted at least 81 applications to advertise on the phone booths but each application was rejected because the council did not want the city inundated with advertising.
However, the telco is allowed to advertise any Telstra-related products without asking for the council’s permission.
City of Melbourne’s planning portfolio chair councillor Nicholas Reece told the Herald Sun although the phone booths were low impact, they still impacted negatively on Melbourne’s city.
Reece said: “These new structures are more like digital billboards masquerading as phone booths on the footpaths of our city.
“We don’t want people to be bombarded with oversized and intrusive commercial advertising on public infrastructure.”
A Telstra spokesperson said the telco was “disappointed” with the decision.
They said: “It is envisaged that over time the new payphones will provide a number of additional services for pedestrians and the community, including device charging, free wi-fi, community and emergency messages and for information for everything from public transport information and maps, weather, tourist information and nearby cultural attractions.
“In most cases a new payphone will be installed in non-pedestrian thoroughfares and other existing street furniture like seats, trees and bins so as to reduce pedestrian impact.”