Dallas Council Votes For Uniform News Racks Downtown

By: E&P Staff Newspaper-owned news racks in downtown Dallas will soon be replaced by uniform city-owned boxes with a heft rent under an ordinance approved unanimously by the city council.

The new law bans individual news racks from downtown and some nearby neighborhoods, and mandates that newspapers and other publications distributed on the street must be vended from multiple-titled or individual racks owned by the city -- and leased by publications at a rate of $179 a year.

The current permit fee for a new rack is $5 per box. The new law takes effect in June 2008.

"It'll make downtown look a lot better. This is a great move," Dallas Mayor Laura Miller said, according to a story by Dallas Morning News reporter Dave Levinthal. Miller is a former columnist for the free alternative weekly Dallas Observer.

Dallas is purchasing the racks at an initial cost of $877,000. In his blog on the Observer's Web site, staff writer Jim Schutze quotes the city's director of development services, Theresa O'Donnell, as saying the law will also require about $321,000 a year for new staff, "so a total cost of $1.2 million for the initial implementation."

Belo Corp., publisher of the Morning News plus two other rack-distributed dailies, Quick and Al Dia, supports the ordinance in principle, its operations vice president, Dan Blizzard, said in Thursday's Morning News article.

But like other bigger publishers, Belo is concerned about the lottery system that will be used to allocate spaces in the eight-title racks.


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