The Government is launching a consultation paper to set guidelines for telephone box advertising.
Planning minister Sally Keeble is heading the investigation by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, which is attempting to clarify the legal position of advertising on payphone kiosks.
The move follows a recent row between BT and a coalition of influential organisations – headed by the Civic Trust – which accused the telecoms giant of erecting new phone kiosks as “a front for advertising hoardings” and posing a threat to public safety (MW January 25).
The medium is not covered by current Town and County Planning Regulations.
The Government is asking for views on possible solutions, which could result in all advertising on telephone boxes requiring the approval of the local planning authority.
Both the Civic Trust and BT say they “welcome” the consultation.
Civic Trust policy officer Ben Webster says: “Councils must be given the power to control these ads so that elected representatives can decide whether they want them or not.”
A spokesman for BT Payphones says it has already adopted its own code of practice, and that seeking approval from local authorities would mean more expense “between all parties”.
He adds that BT needs the advertising space to increase revenue after the drop of use in pay phones.