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WV ethics panel OKs ads on DMV video screens

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Paid commercials soon will be featured on video screens at West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles regional offices, after the Ethics Commission on Thursday approved the arrangement — over strong objections from one commissioner.

“I think this is a horrible idea,” Commissioner Michael Greer complained. “First of all, you’ve got a captive audience.”

In its request for an advisory opinion, the DMV indicated that it is upgrading its electronic queuing systems at its regional offices. In addition to directing customers to particular windows for service, the new systems will be split-screen, with half the screen capable of displaying video content.

To defray costs of the new flat-screen TV monitors and the electronic queuing and video streaming technology, the DMV requested permission from the Ethics Commission to allow the system vendor to sell 18 minutes of paid advertising per hour. (The other 42 minutes would feature state-provided programming, including public service ads from the DMV and other state agencies, according to the request.)

Greer raised concerns about permitting paid advertising at the DMV offices, noting, “I could be watching, “Come to my law office — I handle car wrecks.” I could see, “Buy a car and pay no interest for seven years…

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