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Agreement paves way for anti-war billboard

From George Lerner

New York
Project Billboard
Clear Channel Communications Incorporated

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A liberal advocacy group reached an agreement Thursday with Clear Channel Communications that will allow an anti-war billboard to go up in New York's Times Square in time for the Republican National Convention.

The deal will settle the lawsuit that Project Billboard filed against Clear Channel Monday, after the media company rejected the billboard as "inappropriate." The billboard featured an image of a bomb with text reading, "Democracy is best taught by example, not by war."

Under terms of the settlement, Project Billboard will be allowed to post a billboard with the same text, but the image of a peace dove will replace the original bomb cartoon.

Project Billboard had accused Clear Channel of rejecting the ad for political reasons but backed away from that position after reaching a settlement. The company steadfastly denied any political agenda, insisting it rejected the billboard because the image of a bomb would be offensive in a city that had been a target of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The billboard had been scheduled to be posted at the Marriott Marquis, but, after objections from the hotel, the location will be moved across Times Square to the Conde Nast building at 42nd Street and Broadway.

"We are very pleased that Project Billboard will be able to display its important message in Times Square," said Deborah Rappaport, a spokeswoman for Project Billboard, in a statement.

"We are happy to help Project Billboard get their message to the more than 1.5 million people who pass through Times Square each day," said Paul Meyer, who runs Clear Channel's billboard division.

In addition, Project Billboard will be granted space at the W Hotel at 47th Street and Broadway to post a billboard with the words, "Total Cost of Iraq War," along with a display of a running tally of war costs. According to Project Billboard, the cost of the war, as of July 15, came to $122 billion.

The ads are scheduled to appear for three months beginning Aug. 2, about three weeks before Republicans gather in New York to nominate President Bush for a second term.

Project Billboard said it had initially agreed to pay Clear Channel $368,000 for the billboard's three-month run, but under the new arrangement, the cost would come to $299,000.

Clear Channel declined to comment on the price. "We never release prices paid by our clients," a Clear Channel spokeswoman said.

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