A Marlboro billboard has been moved from a left-field deck in Anaheim Stadium, where it frequently was shown during televised broadcasts of Angel baseball games, to a more obscure location.
The move is part of a June consent decree with the Justice Department under which cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris Inc. agreed to move billboards for Marlboro and its other brands from prominent positions in Anaheim Stadium and other sports arenas, including Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Madison Square Garden in New York and the New Orleans Superdome.
Philip Morris, the nation’s largest tobacco company, agreed to move the left-field billboard, which the Justice Department said had been shown numerous times during broadcasts of Angel baseball games. Government officials say these billboard shots violate a 1971 ban on TV tobacco commercials.
But the tobacco giant’s Marlboro displays in Anaheim Stadium may not be completely in compliance yet, according to government officials. Five remaining Marlboro signs at the stadium are under review by the Justice Department to determine if they are receiving too much exposure during broadcasts.
A large Marlboro sign remains atop the Jumbotron scoreboard in center field. Four other billboards have been placed alongside scoreboards on the first and third base sides of the stadium.
“The sign in left field was what concerned us the most,” said George J. Phillips, a Justice Department attorney. “We are still reviewing all of the other signs to determine if they are also problematic.” He said a final decision will be made in the next several weeks.
Phillips said that a key factor is whether a billboard appears more than once a game, on average, during “action shots.” Officials also will consider whether the billboards are “in focus” and how prominently they appear on the screen.
Steve Elkin, a producer for Angel games on Prime Sports, a cable network, said he believes it will be difficult to keep the cigarette billboards completely off the air as long as they are in the stadium.
“We can’t tell a cameraman not to follow a foul ball to keep an ad out,” Elkin said.
Philip Morris did not respond to calls for comment.