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Archive for Friday, June 5, 2009

Wichita companies reject PETA billboards, say timing is bad

June 5, 2009

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At least two Wichita billboard companies say they will not run billboards from an animal rights group that were prompted by the death of a local abortion provider.

“It’s in poor taste considering the crisis that’s going on in the community right now,” said John Lay, president of George Lay Signs Inc.

“I don’t see anything patently offensive about the ads, but the timing is just not appropriate.”

The proposed billboards, designed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, urge people on both sides of the abortion debate to go vegetarian. One says, “Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian”; the other, “Pro-Choice? Choose Vegetarian.”

Lindsay Rajt, campaign manager for PETA, said the billboards were prompted by the recent shooting death of physician George Tiller, who was killed Sunday at his church.

PETA officials contacted Wichita-area billboard companies earlier this week to inquire about availability and rates. So far none has accepted the ads, Rajt said.

Ron Blue, president of Clear Channel Outdoor, said he considered the billboards but told the group that “we would not be accepting the business.”

“We are definitely a believer in free speech, but ... we have an obligation to the city of Wichita, and that’s probably the factor that weighs out more than any of it.

“I just felt it was ill timing on their part, to come in and, honestly, to take advantage of the heightened situation in Wichita right now,” Blue said.

Clear Channel and George Lay Signs have run billboards from the animal rights group in the past.

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