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NYC declares victory over ‘Times Square-style’ digital floating billboards

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The company that operates the LED screens will take its boat to another state

A billboard floats on a boat in the Hudson River, with the New York City skyline behind it. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Times Square-style billboards that have dotted New York City’s waterways since last fall are gone for good.

Six months after suing Ballyhoo Media, the company behind the floating LED advertisements, the city announced that it reached an agreement that bans the company from operating on any New York state waterway. The company agreed to pay $100,000 to the city and to “temporarily relocate” the billboard boat to Florida, the city said.

“Our legal action has resulted in a big win for New Yorkers,” Georgia M. Pestana, acting corporation counsel at the city’s Law Department, said in a statement. “Ballyhoo will no longer operate its water-based ads anywhere in New York State in defiance of laws intended to further traffic safety and the public’s enjoyment of the waterfront.”

A preliminary injunction had already banned the company from operating within 1,500 feet of the city and anywhere near a major roadway. That followed the passage of a state law officially banneing vessels from operating in New York’s navigable waters, but Ballyhoo had argued that the company could continue operating despite the new legislation because it interfered with interstate commerce. Now, as part of the agreement with the city, Ballyhoo also withdrew that argument.

“Floating billboards are sunk. Good riddance!” State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the state bill banning the ads, said on Twitter.

But though the company may be gone from New York state waters, Ballyhoo’s CEO is not giving up on other states, like New Jersey.

“As the settlement states, we retain the right to return to any waterway outside New York, including New Jersey,” Shapiro told Patch in a statement. “To that end, we look forward to continue exploring opportunities on the Hudson River and utilizing our platform to bring communities together through engaging advertising campaigns, events and experiences as we’ve always done.”