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Free Press takes out spectacular in Times Square

There may not be a lawmaker or policymaker in sight, but Free Press is up on one of Times Square’s big digital spectaculars to push its message: Big companies don’t own the Internet. You do.

The tactic is unusual for the Washington, D.C. advocacy group that usually confines its advertising to the pages of the D.C. print press and uses online petitions to rally consumers.

But when David Letterman’s run on CBS ended, it opened up a lot of inventory on the big board at 43rd and Broadway.  Neutron Media, which represents the space, reached out to Free Press and offered the group a special discounted rate.

“We saw it as an opportunity to send a message to consumers about our work,” said Tim Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press. “Times Square is the crossroads of the world and the crossroads of the media. It was an opportunity to be subversive,” Karr added.

The digital displays for 10 seconds about every 15 minutes and will run through September 30.

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Because the sign is digital, Free Press can easily change its message. Karr said Free Press also expects to promote its brand. “It’s not all about net neutrality or stopping the Charter merger,” Karr said.

Free Press has been one of the leading advocates of the Federal Communications Commission’s recent net neutrality order, and one of the groups that lobbied hard to convince regulators to stop big media mergers such as Comcast-Time Warner Cable.