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TVs at Secretary of State Broadcasting Ads

Andrew Norton

A pilot program has begun at 11 Secretary of State branches across the state using 42-inch flat screen tvs to keep waiting customers from becoming bored. Hey! That sounds great! Unfortunately, when I looked into this a bit further it did not look so great. Instead of getting to watch CNN, I Love Lucy reruns, or ESPN, the televisions are broadcasting some artwork from a Detroit artist (cool) and messages from the Secretary of State that tout their various services (ads?).

Wait a minute. You know, this smells like advertising here. Messages from Secretary of State = ads for their services. Who are they kidding? Luckily for us taxpayers, the screens are courtesy of an Ann Arbor company called Digital 10 and we are not footing the bill. Nothing comes free of course. For “allowing” the Secretary of State offices to use the tvs Digital 10 can sell advertising that is then broadcast on these “free” tvs.

I don't understand the claims that this is not advertising. There is talk of national sponsors (sounds like advertising) who will show information on the services they offer (again, this sounds like ads to me). They are calling it “narrowcasting” (narrowed and targeted advertising) because the “data” (this is what they are calling these ads – unbelievable) is shown to a narrow audience.

The thing they are not mentioning is that this “data” is not only being shown to a narrow audience, but to a captive audience as well. To me this is no different than sitting through commercials when you go to the movies. It is not right and it is not fair.

Even worse, you are subjecting paying customers to crummy ads when they are already not happy to be at the Secretary of State and have to wait for so long. Personally, I handle everything I can with the Secretary of State through the internet. When I do have to go (grudgingly) I bring a book.

So, the state had closed numerous branches of the Secretary of State to save money. This means longer lines and wait times for customers. To “help” the customers not get bored they have now decided that subjecting them to ads while they wait would be a real treat.

What do you think? Does this sound good to you? Read the article from the Lansing State Journal.