A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the fact that outdoor LCD advertising would be illegal, but that the environmental watchdog could not do anything about the LCD screens in taxis. Well, it seems new rules banning ads inside taxis have come into effect this week, according to today’s Shanghai Daily. That does not mean that all screens will disappear overnight, but taxi operators have to remove them once contracts end.
Not good news for TouchMedia that operates most of these screens in Shanghai and that has VC funding from among other LG Ventures and Mustang Ventures. I hope they have back-up plans in place already, I assume this did not come out of the blue.
For taxi passengers it’s a good thing however, I don’t think I ever met anybody who actually liked the screens. I normally put the touch screen on mute and threw a coat over it (if I carried one), so it did not bother me too much. But I have friends who said they got car sick from watching the screens.
Could TouchMedia have avoided this? Nobody knows for sure, but I think that had they put an off button on the screen and sourced better content, they would have had a much better chance to continue operations. People generally like entertainment, just not forced entertainment.
That’s also what Hu Guang, a lawyer and a member of Shanghai’s chief advisory body, said: “Passengers should have the right to choose the services offered by taxis”. He was the one who put forward a proposal to stop video commercials in taxis, and it seems likely that he would not have done so had there been an off button on the screen. Too late.