Can you imagine a world without billboards? One group of Wisconsinites can. Charley Weeth of Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin says the state's roughly 15,000 billboards have been getting bigger and brighter, and increasingly blocking scenic views around the state. “We rank fourth, as far as the number of billboards per state,” says Weeth.
Weeth says that in Wisconsin, supply seems to outweigh demand, as many billboards simply advertise…billboards. But, it's a big moneymaker for the billboard companies, who Weeth says aren't necessarily hurt by vacant sign space. “There's some regulations in place that basically guarantee that once the billboard is installed, the owner of that billboard will be compensated for not only the cost of the installation, but future earning,” says Weeth. “Even if they never rent the billboard out enough to generate a lot of revenue, at some point they will get a return on that investment.” Scenic Wisconsin wants to find a happy medium, suspending construction of new billboards and eliminating them through attrition.