CLEARWATER, FL -- A controversial billboard was censored because the advertiser did not get rights to use images of the actors portrayed in the political satire, not because it supports gay marriage, officials at Clear Channel said.
Dating website beautifulpeople.com bought a billboard near State Road 580 and Belcher Road and wanted to include an image of actors depicting presidential candidate Mitt Romney betrothed to real estate mogul Donald Trump with President Barack Obama officiating.
They were shocked to find out , but the billboard’s seller, Clear Channel.
“It’s a simple legality issue,” said Jim Cullinan, vice president of Clear Channel marketing and communications. “It has nothing to do with anything else ... I wish it was more complicated.”
The censored billboard has white-space cutouts in place of the images of the actors portraying the politicians and businessman. A press release from beautifulpeople.com claimed the action was politcally motived.
Tampa is the host city of the Republican National Convention Aug. 27-30. The billboard is up through August.
“It’s one of our company policies that if you are trying to use that image you have to have those rights,” Cullinan said. “We know certain advertisers use provocative things to try to drive interest. In terms of images of famous people, you have to have those rights.”
Regardless of the fact the advertisement uses actors and not actual images of the politicians and celebrity, Cullinan said, a reasonable person driving past the billboard would not be able to discern the difference.
“Politcal satire, that has been around forever," Cullinan said. "(It) doesn't work on a static billboard."
Cullinan said that is the same reason similar billboards in Los Angeles were censored.
“We are the biggest supporters of First Amendment rights,” Cullinan said.