Crackdown on illegal adverts

Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday promised a crackdown on thousands of illegal billboards in Athens and other major cities, vowing to ensure that four-year-old legislation on the matter is implemented. Papandreou said the campaign, which is meant to improve the appearance of Greek cities ahead of the 2004 Olympics, could produce satisfactory results in two or three months. The new measures, which include fines of up to 50,000 euros for advertisers, companies advertised and the owners of property on which illegal billboards are erected, will be incorporated in new draft legislation. Under a 1999 law, billboards are banned from a 150-meter-wide stretch on either side of highways, while in January 2002 it became illegal to erect such advertisements in most of central Athens. It is also illegal to place billboards on apartment block roofs, and near archaeological sites or traffic lights. Public transport companies are also not allowed to change their fleet’s color scheme to allow huge adverts – as is the case with many Athens trolley buses.