April 16, 2003 By Tod Newcombe
Boston City Councilor John Tobin, who introduced a proposed ban at a recent council meeting, told the Associated Press that ringing cell phones, pagers and other electronic devices has become an increasing problem. "This will put the law in the hands of theater managers and owners," he said.
But others, including Boston Lyric conductor Stephen Lord, believe another law isn't needed, just a better way to remind people to run the devices off during a performance.
Travis Larson, a spokesman for the Washington-based Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, told AP that efforts in Boston and elsewhere to regulate cell phone use sometimes go too far.
"Coughing and unwrapping throat lozenges is disruptive, too, but it's not illegal," he said.
Larson, pointed out that the number of wireless customers in the United States broke the 100 million mark only three years ago, and said putting more laws on the books in an attempt to solve the problem only will result in enlarging bureaucracy with little hope of enforceability.
Under the proposed Boston ordinance, any employee would be authorized to confiscate cell phones, pagers, even Palm Pilots when their electronic chirps and beeps go off during a performance. Violators would get their phones back at the end of the show, but could face a $50 fine for each offense. New York City passed a similar ban last month.
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