"It includes management and maintenance of all advertising locations across London's Tube network, consisting of 33,000 poster sites at 275 London Underground stations, as well as 88,000 panels inside Tube trains. The Victoria Coach Station contract includes advertising rights for the busiest station in the UK...Viacom Outdoor has been responsible for managing advertising across London's Underground system for the last 12 years."
Elsewhere a group of people who believe that we should be "re-claiming back" our space on the Tube appear to be falling fairly short of the pledge they are making concerning "Art not Ads". Austin Plunkett has said "I will pay £10 into a fund that aims to fill a public advertising space with something thought-provoking but only if 350 other people will too".
This pledge has been up since November and closes on the 1st June, so there's only a couple more days for the 230 other people required to make the pledge to pay for an ad on the Tube which will in Austin's words "display of a work of art, poem, extract from a philosophical text, or something else equally thought-provoking, in place of the usual advertising campaigns."
I've placed a number of comments on this page stating that ads on the Underground at the moment are far fewer than they used to be in Victorian & Edwardian times, when you could hardly read the station names for ads (see picture above). They are also far less intrusive & prolific than the ads on the Paris Metro platforms, for example. I do think the pledge is a reasonably well meaning idea, but I also think it's misguided and at the end of the day believe people won't put their money where their mouths are.
True, 120 people have signed up, but that's really not a lot since last November. Also this particular campaign presumes that none of the advertising campaigns on the Tube currently displays "a work of art, poem, extract from a philosophical text, or something else equally thought-provoking", which is quite frankly incorrect.
Granted some of it is rubbish, and if ads offend you, you have recourse in the Advertising Standards Association. I think many ads on the Tube are funny, thought provoking and certainly display a fair amount of art. How many ads on the Tube are for museums and art galleries for example? What about the groundbreaking Poems on the Underground series which many other subway networks have now copied? What about Transport for London's own "Platform for Art" series? Let's not forget that Viacom also give away an amount of their unused ad space to charities, so they're not complete money grabbing capitalists!
I have no idea how much of the £800 million contract actually goes to Transport for London, and how much goes to Viacom, but ads on the London Underground definitely subsidise our fares & the service to some extent. I'd rather look at a bit advertising (or read a paper or look at something else if the ads offend me so much) rather than pay higher Tube fares. What's your view of all this? Would you be prepared to pay a tenner to Austin's fund, so that one or two ads out of 121,000 are funded by "you"? Or are you happy with seeing ads on the Tube?