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      Public transit joins business of political advertising

      LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- This is shaping up to bearguably one of the biggest political seasons for Arkansas in some time, andthere will be millions spent on advertising.

      Everybody wants some ofthat money and public transit in central Arkansas is no exception.

      Central Arkansas TransitAuthority gets funding from federal, state and local tax dollars. Thosecontributions essentially mean many residents around the area are the onespaying for the service.

      Common signage on publictransit in central Arkansas is the destination and public advertisements, but nowpolitical candidates are looking to promote their brand by buying advertisingon a route that tax payers are helping fund.

      "It plays a largerole. We look at local funding to spread load a lot of our financial support,so we look to advertisement as part of our means to remain financially stable,"said CATA's director of public engagement Jason Smedley.

      For as little as $120 amonth, a candidate can have their face traveling all about town on one of thenearly 60 public transit buses, or even as cheap as $11 to be placed on theinside.

      Since tax payers arepaying for this service to continue, political ads on the vehicles may beviewed as a conflict of interest, but Smedley said there's no bias by its groupsince the space is open to all.

      "Not in our regardbecause we look at it as because any politician can put in a request for it, oranyone interested in political office. We leave our doors open to anyone topursue an interest in anyone," he added.


      The transit systemoutsources the advertising, but reserves the right to accept or reject any adsthat are submitted.