Verizon has been told it must remove huge ads that are blanketing two sides of a building in downtown San Francisco a stone’s throw from the city’s Super Bowl celebration.
The company, which has a deal with the NFL to stream games to smartphones, has been told the ads run afoul of a city ordinance that dates back more than 50 years regulating advertisements in San Francisco to “promote the public health, safety and welfare by reducing visual distractions to pedestrians and motorists,” according to local media.
It might be tough for motorists to see the signs after numerous street closures in the area due to the Super Bowl, but they’re difficult for pedestrians to miss. One side of the building looks down on the downtown area that will be home to numerous corporate structures and TV broadcast booths related to the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera told Verizon it has until Thursday to take down the signs or face possible legal action.
“Because of [an] honest misunderstanding between the City and the Host Committee about permissible signage under the Planning Code, we have decided to remove our signage at Embarcadero 4,” Verizon said in a statement.
While residents haven’t welcomed the ads, they are probably grateful for something far less visible: improved cellular connectivity in the area. Verizon and the three other major carriers have set up additional base stations to help handle data demand from the hundreds of thousands expected to visit during the Super Bowl.
On Wednesday, the company gave a tour of its Super Bowl infrastructure and showed some of the 100 cell sites it has installed for the event. Many will remain in the downtown area and some could form the base for 5G network trials when they begin.
Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.