Pro-net neutrality group gets Times Square billboard

Internet advocacy group Free Press now has access to a particularly large megaphone: a billboard in New York’s Times Square.

The group, which advocates for net neutrality and against large corporate media mergers, has ads appearing on a rotating digital display at the corner of 43rd St. and Broadway.

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Tim Karr, the organization’s senior director of strategy, said that they were approached earlier this year by Neutron Media, the company that owns the sign, who asked whether they would like to purchase space at a discounted rate.

The display runs on a 20 minute loop, Karr said, with the Free Press ad appearing along with displays for large corporations like Geico and other non-profits like the Cato Institute. It will run through September 30.

The Free Press ad shows hashtags like #NetNeutrality and #BringBackOurGirls that have galvanized support online in recent years. It then closes with the message “Big companies don’t own the Internet. You do. Fight for your rights to connect and communicate.”

Karr said that the group had been “exploring opportunities to popularize our brand, so to speak, with a more general audience” and reach people outside of Washington, D.C. He said that they want to reach “beyond the Beltway and beyond the sort of media activists and Internet activists who care about these issues.”

“We’re really happy with [the billboard],” he said.

He also noted the irony of advertising amongst billboards for the major media companies that Free Press sometimes finds itself pitted against.

“It’s meant to be subversive in that Times Square is really the crossroads of the world, but really it’s the crossroads of big media companies,” he said, noting the billboard sits next to a massive ad for T-Mobile.