TV ads funded by city now required to say so
The bill becomes law just as commercials about rail hit the air
With a recent explosion of radio and television advertisements on the city's $4 billion rail system, a new law recently passed would require the city to disclose any ads paid with taxpayer dollars.
After repeated objections from the city administration during City Council hearings, Mayor Mufi Hannemann let the bill pass into law without his signature Wednesday, saying there is a technical flaw in the language of the law when it comes to television advertisements.
"We suggest City Council edit the current language to outline the specific approach required to notify television viewers about how an advertisement is funded," Hannemann wrote in a letter to the City Council. "This clarification is needed to enable compliance with the ordinance."
Councilman Charles Djou, who introduced the bill, said he does not expect there to be any changes in the law since it states a disclosure for television ads can be orally stated at the end.
Under the law, any city-paid advertisements -- print or broadcast on the radio and television -- will have to include a statement that says, "Paid for (or in part) by city taxpayers" or "Paid for (or in part) by the taxpayers of the City and County of Honolulu."
The Hannemann administration opposed the bill during City Council hearings, saying the bill was unnecessary and redundant since the printed ads already included the city seal. Other ads the city places are for public service, such as hurricane preparedness, Jeff Coelho, director of the Department of Customer Services, had testified.
But Djou said recent advertisements that the city created on the 20-mile elevated rail system from Kapolei to Ala Moana, which he opposes, crossed the line.
"This new law tells the taxpayers when the government seeks to manipulate the public using the public's money," Djou said yesterday. "Twenty years from now, rail very well may not be the issue everyone's talking about. But if a future mayor ever tries to do what Mufi Hannemann has done and use taxpayer money to manipulate them, the public should know that."
In recent weeks there has been a flood of advertisements on the city's rail system. The Hawaii Carpenters Union and a new group called Support Rail Transit has launched pro-rail advertisements that total into the hundreds of thousands to counter messages placed by an anti-rail group, Stop Rail Now.