A California public interest group declared victory Thursday in its battle against media giant Clear Channel Spectacolor, ending a dispute over an antiwar billboard planned for Times Square.
In an agreement with the media company, Berkeley, Calif.-based Project Billboard will post two signs in the cradle of the midtown business district in time for the Republican National Convention late next month. A billboard stretching the length of several stories will feature a dove and the words: Democracy Is Best Taught By Example, Not By War. The second, a ticker similar to the iconic national debt clock, will display the "total cost of Iraq War" in dollars spent.
"The bigger message is, the ability of Americans to discuss and debate the issues is going to be maintained," said Deborah Rappaport, director of Project Billboard. "We are very gratified by that."
The two sides closed negotiations the day before they were expected to return to federal court. The California group had sued Clear Channel for breach of contract when it declined to post a billboard with the same message and the image of a bomb on the side of a hotel in Times Square.
The media company decided that the bomb imagery was too sensitive for a city still reeling from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The company added that the hotel owners had veto power over the ad's content.
"Clear Channel always wanted to help them. The problem was, a political ad couldn't go up on that building," a Clear Channel spokesman said. A company official said the agreement demonstrated Clear Channel's commitment to helping the group find an alternate location.
The billboards will be unveiled Aug. 2 and displayed for several months.