CTA Defends Anti-video Game Ad OrdinanceS

The Media Coalition has joined the Entertainment Software Association in their call for the Chicago Transit Authority to repel its ordinance barring the advertising of video games rated Mature or Adults Only.

The ordinance prohibits advertisements for video games that have been rated "Mature" or "Adults Only" on CTA vehicles and in CTA facilities. A lawsuit was filed today by the Entertainment Software Association in federal court in Chicago challenging the ordinance.

Reached for comment this afternoon, Wanda Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Transit Authority, told Kotaku that the authority has not yet been served with the suit but that they feels that the ordinance is defensible.

"The CTA does not allow advertising for alcohol or tobacco products and this ordinance is consistent with that long-standing policy," she said.

The Media Coalition says that by restricting advertising for video games in a public forum based on its content, the policy infringes upon the First Amendment rights of video game producers and their audience. The ordinance also, they say, unconstitutionally gives legal effect to a private voluntary rating system in determining which speakers may advertise with CTA.

"Ex-Governor Blagojevich spent hundreds of thousands of dollars unsuccessfully to defend a law that barred minors from buy or renting similar video games before it was struck down as unconstitutional," said David Horowitz, Executive Director of Media Coalition. "The Chicago Transit Authority should repeal this ill-conceived ordinance rather than using scarce resources to fight this in court and get the same result."

Taylor pointed out that they have a number of guidelines in place for determining if an advertisement can run on the CTA. The guidelines, she said, require ads to be truthful and not directed at inciting imminent lawless action.

The ads cannot be legally obscene, sexually explicit, depict nudity or portray graphic violence nor can they incite lawless illegal action.

The guidelines now also include this item:

"Advertisements marketing or identifying a video or computer game with an ESRB rating of "Mature (M)" or "Adults Only (AO)" are prohibited."