Report: Conn. Proposal Would Sell Ads on State Websites

Putting advertisements on a government website might force move to a dot-com domain.

by / January 28, 2011

A proposal circulating in the Connecticut General Assembly would permit the selling of ads on state websites in an effort to generate revenue for the cash-starved state.

“We’re in a budget nightmare,” said state Rep. Richard Smith, a Republican freshman from New Fairfield, in the Hartford Courant .

“We’e trying to look at new and unique ways to raise revenue without taxing people,” Smith said. “This might be a way to raise money for the state without reaching into people’s pocketbooks.”

Although it’s unknown exactly how much money this could bring in, Smith told the newspaper that he asked the state Office of Legislative Research to look into the potential benefits of this type of online advertising.

That research might entail looking to other states that already place ads in public domains to bring in extra cash for the state. Washington state recently began a trial program running banner ads on its state ferries website. Arizona and Virginia school districts are running Web ads on their official sites, according to USA Today. Ads also are popping up in city-run zoos, gardens and parks.

However, to place the ads on the public websites, Connecticut would first have to bypass a federal law prohibiting all non-government ads on dot-gov Internet domains. Other government agencies that have accepted ads have had to switch to a dot-com domain.

Smith’s idea also raises questions about what types of ads would be on the site and if the government would be viewed as endorsing that product or service.

Those issues and others are likely to be raised when the bill comes up for a public hearing in the next couple of weeks, Smith said.