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WJLA Seeking Permission to Replace Jumbotron

by ARLnow.com June 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm 5,216 25 Comments

The 8-year-old “Jumbotron” screen outside the WJLA building in Rosslyn has “fallen into disrepair” and needs to be replaced, according to a staff report filed in advance of this Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting.

WJLA is asking the County Board to approve a site plan amendment that would allow the station to install a new high definition screen in place of the existing standard definition Jumbotron. The new screen would be smaller: 164 square feet compared to the current screen’s 172 square feet. It would also have a rectangular 16:9 aspect ratio, as opposed to the more square 4:3 aspect ratio of the current screen.

County staff is recommending the Board approve the new screen, but deny a separate request from WJLA to dedicate a portion of the screen to “commercial sponsor messages” unrelated to the normal WJLA programming.

According to the staff report:

The applicant is proposing that the Jumbotron screen be redesigned to display the WJLA broadcast on the main portion of the screen, with static community/cultural messages occupying 15% of the screen and static commercial sponsor messages occupying 8% of the screen. Currently, the screen displays the WJLA broadcast and interrupts service periodically to display community/cultural messaging.

“Such a use is prohibited by the Zoning Ordinance and a modification to allow it would be unprecedented in the County,” county staff writes.

The applicant agreed to a condition prohibiting deliberate commercial messages on the screen when the Jumbotron was approved in 2003… The Sign Ordinance prohibits the advertising of goods and services not available on the lot in which it is advertized [sic] due to the potential deleterious impacts that would result from such signs, including the proliferation of “billboards,” and the potential for increased sign clutter. There is no precedent for the County Board to approve a modification to this regulation as staff is not aware of such signs having been approved under the current Sign Ordinance.

It’s unclear if WJLA will proceed with the screen replacement if the County Board does not approve the commercial message portion of their request. It’s also unclear what exactly is broken in the current screen. A representative of Allbritton Communications, the parent company of WJLA, did not reply to a request for comment.

No changes to the wrap-around news ticker on either side of the screen are included in the request.

  • Swag

    What’s broken? It’s not generating ad revenue, that’s what’s broken.

    • JamesE

      They could display a wonderful collection of photos taken by Trevor, sure to generate revenue.

      • BangBrahs

        ACPD has all the PNGs. I only have my JPEGs left.

      • have a collection of limited edition trevor prints hanging in my hallways. big conversation starter.

        • Josh S

          Your cave has hallways?

  • Aaron

    Nothing that is unprecedented should EVER be approved by the County board! That would invite anarchy!!!

    WJLA should consider making a sizeable yet unsolicited donation to the multimedia departments at Arlington’s high schools, maybe throw in some free ad time for the Artisphere, just to see what happens.

    • drax

      No, not anarchy – requests from many others to do the same.

      Exceptions to rules shouldn’t be made unless there’s a good reason. That’s fair.

      • SomeGuy

        Doesn’t the board often make zoning exceptions for developers in exchange for some kind of kickback? And I use the term “kickback” in as innocent a way as the reader chooses to interpret it.

        • drax

          This wouldn’t involve a variance to zoning, it would require a change in zoning law.

          Should we change the law every time one interest finds it a hindrance to what they want?

          It’s not like the county is always inflexible. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

          • SomeGuy

            I couldn’t care less about the outcome of this. But can you explain why a variance couldn’t be used to permit this? I.e., why does it require amending the law, as you say?

      • ACDC Hack

        You have to give drax an “Irony Alert”…….

        Good help is just so hard to find nowadays !!

        Personally I think that they should only broadcast large photos of the current county board with a nostalgic photo of Babs thrown in.

        • Josh S


          Perhaps you meant to say sarcasm?

          PS – They’re not the same.

          • ACDC Hack

            Thank-you for proving my point about the difficulty in locating good help !!

  • the WLJA has my permission. who else wants to give them permission? petition to give said peeps permission to replace the jumbotron, please reply to this post. thank you.

    • BangBrahs

      Only if Pamela Brown and Britt McHenry install it themselves wearing locally-sourced Lululemon yoga pants, while being supervised by Leon Harris.

      • Scott

        Autria Godfrey too!

    • JB

      Only if they keep a scrolling banner of where the daily pool parties are.

  • Brian

    I think they use it to show TBD slideshows, since that the only thing that site has

  • Clarendon Skank

    I thought a ‘jumbotron’ was something else.

    • karzai

      A real jumbotron is a heck of a lot larger and more impressive than this thing, which is little more than a giant screen TV hung on the second floor of an office building. Now we hear they’re going to make it even smaller…

      • Clarendon Skank

        I was thinking more in terms of Serbs.

  • JB

    Maybe they could get BMW to sponsor it and call it the Mini-tron?

  • MC

    I love the Jombotron – livens up Rosslyn. Hoping the replacement will be as good or better.

    • Rosslynite

      Well, it does give you something to look at in the downtimes when you’re waiting to cross the intersection and the cops aren’t there pulling people over for blocking the box and running lights.

  • YTK

    HAHAHAH!! This is SO Funny! “Fallen into Disrepair” after EIGHT years???! That would be the LAMEST of excuses in Time Square– LOL!!


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