Illinois Guv Was an Early Proponent of Banning Violent Game Ads from Public Transit

In the wake of recent controversies over GTA ads on mass-transit vehicles in Boston and PortlandGamePolitics notes that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was an early proponent of removing such advertisements.

As far back as 2004, Gov. Blagojevich urged the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to drop ads for GTA San Andreas. The Guv’s call to ban the ads preceded the passage of his Safe Game Illinois Act by less than a year. The Illinois video game law was eventually ruled unconstitutional.

Free speech issues were also raised in the CTA controversy, as reported at the time by Chicago’s ABC-7:

In Chicago the CTA is collecting $90-thousand dollars to plaster one of the games, “Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas”, on the side of 400 CTA buses in the month of December.

The transit agency depends on advertising on buses, trains, and el station walls for $20-million dollars a year. But the governor says the video ad should be taken down because it encourages young people to buy the game illegally…

The CTA says the governor’s campaign is admirable, but they can’t simply reject ads that are tastefully done simply because they don’t like the product.

“As long as an ad meets guidelines that have been in place for years, they’re not legally obscene, sexually explicit, then the CTA is required to take those ads. It’s also an important source of revenue for us,” said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney…

State Rep. Edward Acevedo opposed the Governor at the time, saying:

Are we going to censor the billboards or commercials on the video games? I don’t think there’s any way to get around that constitutionally.

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