It appears the sun is finally setting on Ballyhoo Media, nearly a year to the day after the billboard boat floated into the harbor, beamed its flashing LED ads along the city's waterfront, and swiftly pissed off an untold number of New Yorkers.
On Tuesday, the city declared victory in its fight over the Miami-based company, announcing a settlement in the lawsuit filed this past March. Under the terms of the agreement, Ballyhoo is prohibited from displaying water-based ads anywhere in the state of New York.
To ensure compliance—and because the company has a habit of proudly flouting the law—Ballyhoo will be forced to "temporarily relocate the Vessel to Florida," according to the agreement put in place by Judge Louis Stanton. CEO Adam Shapiro has also consented to a $100,000 entry of judgment, which will be awarded to the city in the event that he violates the settlement. In exchange, the city has agreed to drop its suit against the boats, which carried a potential fine in excess of $3 million.
“Our legal action has resulted in a big win for New Yorkers," Acting Corporation Counsel Georgia M. Pestana said in a statement. "We will vigorously enforce this consent decree through additional legal action should Ballyhoo violate the terms of this settlement.”
While Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in August meant to ban the boats, Shapiro insisted that the law did not apply to his "innovative platform." His argument—that Ballyhoo only had to adhere to federal standards for flashing ads—was "a willful misreading of the statute from a company currently breaking the law,” according to State Senator Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the bill.
The consent decree would seem to reinforce that point, as it explicitly prohibits Ballyhoo from operating "any sign that uses [LED] technology."
Still, in a statement sent to Gothamist on Tuesday, Shapiro again asserted that his company had never violated the law, but was merely electing to leave New York on its own terms.
“Ballyhoo Media complied with all local, state and federal laws during our time in New York and still has the legal right to safely operate in New York waters," he said. "But we have decided to stop fighting with the City and State and instead focus on pursuing opportunities elsewhere."
Those opportunities could potentially still include parts of the Hudson River, according to the CEO, who notes, "We retain the right to return to any waterway outside New York, including New Jersey."
Until then, goodnight, TV Boat. We'll always have Pets 2.