World

Kiss and make-up in Times Square

Revlon reactivates 'Kiss Cam' at New York's Times Square despite incidents of public groping

Cosmetics company Revlon switched on its "Kiss Cam" in New York's Times Square on Tuesday, four days after the interactive billboard went dark over complaints that it was attracting gropers.

City and law enforcement officials have been increasingly concerned with the state of Times Square. Previously known as New York's hub for peep shows and other X-rated attractions, it was cleaned up in the 1990s and transformed into a family-friendly destination.

But this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio remarked on the proliferation of topless women and aggressive costumed characters who pose with tourists for tips, saying it threatened to drag the area back to "the bad old days".

Last week, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the "Kiss Cam" was a new top concern.

"There (are) people coming up and groping people who are so intent on taking selfies of themselves, they don't realise somebody is grabbing their butt," Mr Bratton said last Friday.

The interactive billboard displays live images taken from a nearby camera of people locking lips and embracing.

A neon pink heart and messages promoting affection overlay the shots.

Several men were arrested last month for forcibly touching women they did not know who were taking selfie photographs at the site, police said.

On Friday, the display, which was launched in November last year as part of Revlon's "Love Is On" marketing campaign, was switched off, Reuters reported.

Revlon spokesman Mario Ruiz said it was shut down temporarily while the situation was evaluated.

He did not elaborate on why the company decided to reactivate the screen on Tuesday, but said it took police recommendations into account.

He said: "We are taking the lead of the NYPD and will continue to do so."

The billboard, which was previously active 24 hours a day, will now click off at night, when police say most of the groping incidents happened.

NYPD said it had urged Revlon to turn off the sign indefinitely.

Revlon did not disclose the cost of the electronic billboard, but estimates by the Wall Street Journal in 212 put Times Square advertising space at between US$1.1 million (S$1.5 million) and US$4 million per year.

united statesUncategorisedNew York CitygropingBill de Blasio