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Clear Channel in antiwar ad flap
Activist group accuses media company of banning its billboard in New York's Times Square.
July 12, 2004: 7:48 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Anti-war group Project Billboard has threatened to file a lawsuit Monday against Clear Channel Communications, alleging that the media company has blocked a billboard opposing the Iraq war from being mounted in Times Square, according to the New York Times.

The billboard -- an image of a red, white and blue bomb with the words "Democracy is Best Taught by Example, Not by War" -- was supposed to go up next month to coincide with the G.O.P convention in New York City, the report said.

The group is accusing Clear Channel (CCU: Research, Estimates) with breach of contract after it said a leasing agreement was reached last December to erect the sign next month on space the company owns on the Marriott Marquis hotel at Broadway and 45th Street, the Times reported.

Project Billboard spokesman Howard Wolfson was quoted as saying that Clear Channel rejected the design that was submitted earlier this month.

"I guess we can have a war, but we can't talk about it," Wolfson told the Times. The group said its lawsuit is expected to be filed in Manhattan federal court.

Clear Channel's chief executive officer, Paul Meyer, told the paper that the company's only objection was the group's use of "the bomb imagery" in its proposed billboard.

Meyer said Clear Channel had signed off on a billboard that would use the image of a dove instead of a bomb, but that it still required the approval of the Marriott Marquis management, which he said also objected to the bomb billboard.

"We have no political agenda," Meyer told the Times. "It's the bomb imagery we objected to."

Marriott Marquis officials could not be reached for comment, the report said.

Wolfson rejected Meyer's comments, saying that Clear Channel had rejected the ad with the dove and demanded that the copy also be changed, the report said.

The Times noted that this is not the first time that Clear Channel, one of the nation's largest owners of radio stations, has found itself in the middle of a free speech and censorship debate.

The company's critics point out that Clear Channel country music stations boycotted songs of the Dixie Chicks last year after the group's lead singer told fans she was "ashamed" that President Bush is from Texas.  Top of page




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