Fate of WJLA Jumbotron Uncertain After Vote

by ARLnow.com June 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm 4,675 60 Comments

The Arlington County Board board has approved the replacement of WJLA’s Jumbotron in Rosslyn, but the ultimate fate of the screen and the news ticker around it is uncertain.

While the Board approved a request to replace the screen at 1100 Wilson Boulevard with a more modern, high definition video display, it also voted against a request that 8 percent of the screen space be used for a static commercial sponsorship message.

WJLA and landlord Monday Properties requested a sponsorship logo be allowed in order to help fund the new pricey new screen. The logo would have taken up 8 percent of the screen, while another 15 percent of the screen would have been used for community and cultural messages. As we reported last week, county staff recommended against the sponsorship request, saying it could set a bad precedent.

The county zoning ordinance states advertising for goods or services not available on site is forbidden, largely to avoid the proliferation of billboards. Jonathan Puvak, an attorney representing Monday Properties, argued at Saturday’s County Board meeting that thanks to specific restrictions proposed by the applicant, making an exception for the Jumbotron would not create a new precedent and wouldn’t spur billboards. The Board, however, still voted unanimously in favor of the county staff recommendation.

Monday Properties was seeking to replace the eight-year-old screen because it’s no longer capable of displaying the WJLA’s high definition broadcasts. At the moment, it can only display a weather map. Before the vote, Puvak said the Jumbotron may simply be taken down unless the sponsorship aspect was approved.

“Without the sponsorship element, it’s likely that the new screen will not be installed, and both the ticker and the Jumbotron will eventually come down, as they’re no longer maintainable,” Puvak said.

  • at least they could agree the new screen needs a good chunk of it allocated to “dormant space,” huh?

  • TJLinBallston

    Is there something wrong with having a commcerical communication as a small portion of the facade of a huge commcerical office building? How can that be seen as a bad precedent?

    • drax

      Precedent means every building gets one next.

    • Eric

      The precedent of allowing ad space on the billboard is that every other building could then argue for jumbotron billboards, even if the product or service advertised had nothing to do with the business at that location.
      This is a bogus argument that the current jumbotron can’t handle HD. Some other reader pointed out that every Radio Shack has a down-converter device to display HD on old televisions. It should work here. The board and its staff aren’t being bamboozzled. The original site plan amendment called for this feature. The building can’t come back now and say they can’t afford it. Tough.

      • ACDC Hack

        “The precedent of allowing ad space on the billboard is that every other building…….”

        And if that happened just imagine how unattractive Rosslyn would be…..oh wait a minute…it is already is.

        • speonjosh

          It’s not just Rosslyn.

          The last thing we need is video billboards bombarding us with even more marketing BS.

          • DCBuff

            +++++++++++(your ad here)+++++++

          • WeiQiang


      • Crampton

        What site plan amendment was this screen part of?

        • Eric

          I miss wrote. It was a sign permit that was approved when they agreed the screen would carry no ads, even going dark during commercial breaks when carrying off-the-air content from WJLA. The sign gives Rosslyn a Blade Runner atmosphere when it’s reflected off the glassy neighbors. I think the 1812 Moore St. Project is supposed to give the Dominion substation a multimedia jumbotron facade. Sort of a Times Sq. look. Imagine how cool Rosslyn would be if it actually had crowds at night? Crowds waiting to get into the new Central Place McDonalds.

  • JohnB2

    “Monday Properties was seeking to replace the eight-year-old screen because it’s no longer capable of displaying the WJLA’s high definition broadcasts. At the moment, it can only display a weather map.”

    Why not down-convert the signal? There has to be some sort of converter thingy out there… There’s a Radio Shack in Ballston Mall that I’m sure could use the business.

    • Chris B

      Wow, I work in the Ballston Mall building and never realized there was a Radio Shack there.

      • Josh S

        Wow. The place only has about 12 stores, I would think it wouldn’t be too hard to learn them all. Plus, you have to go right past the Radio Shack to get to the movie theater.

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    Surely they can’t be that hard up for ad revenue. Maybe they need to raise the rates of the Ford Board, the Toyota sports desk, the IHOP coffee mugs, and the Roto Rooter teleprompter.

    This message is brought to you by The Croftweiler Industrial Cartel: Makers of all sorts of stuff, made out of everything.

    • JohnB2

      Too funny. Especially if you watch both 7 and 8, you get inundated with not-so-subliminal advertising.

  • Bob the Builder

    What exactly has changed between when it was installed and now? Taking into account inflation, you mean to tell me these screens are so much more expensive that they can’t be afforded?

    • SoArl

      What happened? The Internet. Broadcast stations, especially local news, are really hurting right now. I’m sure they’re looking at whatever new revenue stream they can think of. I think it is pretty short-sided of the board are not going to let them do this. I mean, it’s not like any business except a media organization would install a jumbotron. I can’t see Starbucks, whole foods, or cheesecake factory running to do it.

      • Eric

        If they could sell ads every business would jump at the chance to throw up a billboard. How many food joints have already installed a jumbo screen inside that runs continuous ads?

      • Josh S

        Accusing the board of being short-sided (sic)? (I think you meant short-sighted.)

        It doesn’t take much to imagine that every office tower around would want to add such a display – even if it doesn’t broadcast anything related to the businesses in the building at all. Witness the proliferation of video screens in elevators which simply carry news and ads.

  • Becoming indifferent

    Streetcar=bad precedent

  • Roover

    This is stupid. All they had to do was just to replace the screen. Now all of may be taken down. WOW!!!! I thought we was better than this Arlington. I see many people look at the screen while walking in Rosslyn. It symbolizes is a downtown culture with this being here. Hopefully they will resolve this issue and replace the screen and leave the ticker there as well.

    • Benedict

      I see many people look at the screen while driving in Rosslyn. A good reason to remove it.

      • SomeGuy

        You look at people “while driving in Rosslyn?” Sounds like a good reason to remove them.

    • Eric

      Huh? Who looks up when they cross the street? Most pedestrians have their faces pegged to their smartphone or tablet as they cross the street. We don’t need a jumbotron or crawl for news and weather.

  • Clarendon Skank

    They should use it to display pictures of Serbian lifeguards.

    • Grindr

      There are 4 Serbian lifeguards within 1789 feet.

    • JohnB2

      As long as they have the female LG’s too, I’m for it.

      • Josh S

        Aren’t they mostly female?

        • JohnB2

          Unfortunately, we’ve had dudes only for the past 2 years where I live. The 2 years before that, we had ladies though.

  • Jeff Miller

    Anyone notice the County Board’s double standard?

    The County slaps up new ad signs in Rosslyn to promote the money-losing Artisphere. No questions asked, no public comment solicited.

    But when a private company has its own sign on its own building (already approved by the County), and simply wants to alter the content, the County Board indignantly sneers “No ads allowed”.

    Yet another example of the Board’s anti-business attitude.

    • novastephanie
      • SomeGuy

        What message are you attempting to convey with your link?

    • Boris Durke

      So true.

    • Josh S

      The county manages public space. Such a jumbotron intrudes on public space yet provides messages promoting private goods. There is no public benefit from ads for McDonalds, etc. It’s really just basic civics.

      Also, there are many things that you might accuse the board of having, but an “anti-business attitude” is hardly one of them.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        Except the article says
        “15 percent of the screen would have been used for community and cultural messages” so there will be a public benefit, they just don’t want to pay for it out of pocket.

  • yo yo ma

    i like the weather map. They should just leave that up 24/7

    • yo ma ma

      But if you’re out, you already know what the weather is.

      • yo yo ma

        it’s better than watching the news

  • nom de guerre

    I believe they should be allowed to display the daily special at Sam’s Corner which is slow roasted shredded Berkshire pork shoulder , infused with rice vinegar, lemon grass, cane sugar and garlic, on a kaiser roll, with a Siracha and fish sauce marinated broccoli, bean sprouts, daikon radish and carrot slaw with roasted peanuts. This is response to WeiQiangs interest in Asian fusion cuisine.

    That is all.

    • yo yo ma


    • Stu

      Yum – you should open a food truck after the deli closes (then any corner you park at could be Sam’s Corner, and it would be easy to keep your random hours).

      • Crystal City

        As long as you don’t park in Rosslyn. They don’t want you there. Come to Crystal City instead.

      • Dr_Klahn

        Or you could park it in front of Karzai’s business – that would put some ants in his knickers.

    • WeiQiang

      clutch, brah!

  • steverino

    What if the “static commercial sponsorship message” was an advertisement for Artisphere – would that change their mind?

    • nom de guerre

      That’s a clown question, bro.

      The answer is YES.

    • Not your bro

      I noticed that the demo pic had an Artisphere ad on it. Not a bad idea, given that Artisphere’s marketing arm is struggling.

  • AnonForObviousReasons

    They should be able to fund the Jumbotron’s replacement with the money they saved from not hiring replacements who left. I know they made a pretty penny off of me and not having to pay overtime.

    • JohnB2

      OK, I’ll bite. There are only a few people I think could be considered to be working overtime… let’s see:

      Pamela Brown (feature reporter and occasional anchor)
      Brianne Carter (feature reporter seemingly 24/7)
      Natasha Barrett (feature reporter and host of an NC8 show)
      Jummy Olabanji (feature reporter seemingly 24/7)
      John Gonzalez (feature reporter seemingly 24/7)
      Autria Godfrey (feature reporter and occasional anchor)
      Horace Holmes (feature reporter and occasional anchor)

      The others I don’t see a whole lot that did overtime that was apparent to a pretty regular viewer of both 7 and 8. Don’t get me wrong, I think lots of the reporters there are great, I’m just trying to figure out this overtime thing.

      It’s obvious they brought in some young blood though, with Whitney Wild and the other cute young field reporter whose name escapes me. The only two people that recently left that come to mind are Julie Parker, who now works for PG County, and Haley Harrison, who I think went to Kansas. There were also the layoffs in 2009, if that’s what you’re referring to.

      • Oh yeah

        The jumbotron should feature photos and videos of Pamela Brown, around the clock, 24/7. Then Rosslyn would be a beautiful place.

      • Josh S

        Huh? A news organization still includes a whole lot of people beyond the bubble headed bleach blondes. Anon poster could very well be behind the camera, not in front of it.

  • Mc

    Let’s save the jumbotron. Fight blandness.

  • Roover

    @ MC

    I feel u!!! Those tight people in North Arlington dont know. If it was to go down everyone will miss it.

  • Rick

    I hope they leave the old one up til the last pixel dies now. What’s the harm in a new screen? The county is getting their “community space”, I guess they could put the name of the show where the ad is/vacant space.

  • HaydiosMio

    … first world problems… “help me help, i can’t put a large TV outside, how will our society function?”

    pura pendejada, bro.

  • Terry

    Keep Rosslyn boring, bland and robotic! It’s The Arlington Way.

    • HayCaramba

      eh no.. they can pay for the board which they still play advertising on when the news is on commercials.

      none of this weasel way of getting an electronic billboard up by whining they can’t afford it. then take it down and be done if you are so concerned about cost.

    • Josh S

      Because there are no ways to liven up public spaces other than broadcasting commercial images into them.

      • Terry

        Because businesses are just clamoring to spend money to “liven up” public spaces with no return on investment.

  • Carol_R

    Just another example of how anti-business Arlington is.


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