According to legislation signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, running a digital billboard through New York’s waterways is now a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine on the first offense, and $5,000 for each violation thereafter. The ban was meant to take effect immediately.

And yet, Ballyhoo Media’s floating digital billboard—the explicit target of the new state law—is still drifting freely through the city’s waterways, beaming its 1,200-square-foot LED screen at the Manhattan and Brooklyn shoreline just as it's done for most of the past year.

On Wednesday, the boat even joined the welcome party for teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, as part of a United Nations initiative to promote sustainable development goals. (A UN spokesperson did not respond to questions about the arrangement.)

When it is not #aplatformforchange, Ballyhoo is a platform for brands, including Pepsi and Uber and private helicopter companies, which it has promised high visibility access to hundreds of millions of New York City pedestrians and drivers. Despite the state ban, that company’s business model will not change, according to Ballyhoo CEO Adam Shapiro.

In an op-ed published in the Daily News this week, Shapiro argued that the law only applies to floating billboards that use “flashing or intermittent lights.” Acting on advice from his attorneys, he claims Ballyhoo merely has to adhere to federal standards for roadway signs, which allow digital billboards to change every four to ten seconds.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the legislation, called Ballyhoo’s interpretation “a willful misreading of the statute from a company currently breaking the law.” He said there was little doubt that the intent of the legislation will hold up in court, adding that it was time for Ballyhoo to accept that “their business model is sunk.”

The Manhattan senator also took issue with the CEO’s claim that his billboard was “simply one boat in the harbor of hundreds,” and is essentially no different from the ferries and other vessels that already feature exterior ads.

“This was something that no one had seen before, or frankly wanted to see,” Hoylman told Gothamist. “New Yorkers don’t want digital billboards on their waterways and that’s why we passed this law.”

In its own promotional materials, Ballyhoo boasts of “standing by itself” in the otherwise untapped market of waterfront outdoor advertising. That innovative approach has allowed the company to charge a reported $55,000 for a 30-second spot that runs on a loop for four weeks.

Gothamist's inquiries to Ballyhoo's clients—including Uber, Lyft, Heineken, AMC, and the Brooklyn Nets— about whether the new law will impact their decision to advertise on the boats were not returned.

Of course, for the prohibition to actually work, it will need to be enforced. But more than a week after the statute was signed, Ballyhoo does not appear to have faced a single citation. A spokesperson for the NYPD told Gothamist the department was still “determining how enforcement will be conducted and the training that will be required to conduct that enforcement.”

The boat spotted near West 30th Street last Thursday (Michelle Hines)

Adding to the complications, Ballyhoo is in the midst of fighting off a city lawsuit, and has been temporarily barred by a judge from operating “under 1,500 feet from the City's shore and within view from an arterial highway." Whether or not this means the boat can edge closer to shore when not in view of a highway is the subject of another thorny legal dispute between officials and the company’s lawyers.

“We have meticulously mapped out our route to comply with all applicable laws and regulations,” Shapiro asserted in a statement sent to Gothamist through a spokesperson on Wednesday. “Our captain, a Coast Guard veteran, follows the same route everyday and always remains more than 1500 [feet] away when in view of a highway, per the judge’s ruling.”

Presented with photographic evidence that would seem to indicate otherwise, the spokesperson did not respond.