Anti-pigeon shoot activists have learned what $1 million won't buy them: space on a Clear Channel billboard.
The group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), was set to unveil its first billboard on I-95 in Philadelphia last week as part of a major lobbying campaign bankrolled by TV icon Bob Barker, when Clear Channel suddenly pulled the plug.
The billboard depicts a bloody feather and the website www.pashame.com. The group had a contract that was paid in full when it was told that Clear Channel executives objected to the content on the website, said Stuart Chaifetz, media coordinator for SHARK.
Specifically, Chaifetz said, George Kauker, president of Clear Channel Philadelphia told him the website was a "hit piece" on Attorney General Tom Corbett.
In a letter to Corbett posted on the website, the group urges him to step in and enforce current animal cruelty law. In its appeal to Gov. Rendell it says:
"Pennsylvania Attorney General Corbett has also refused to do his duty and shut the shoots down. Perhaps it is his fear of backlash from the NRA, and the damage they could do to his chances to be the next Governor, that are guiding his thoughts on this."
In a voice mail message, Kauker said the company reviews billboards and websites for content to "ensure that it meets the tastes and standards of the local community" and reserves the right to reject content if it is "deemed offensive toward any business, group or individual."
The company did not respond to a request to confirm officials were angry about the Corbett statements.
Chaifetz said the group only wants the attorney general, as well as Gov. Rendell and state lawmakers, to end the practice of pigeon shoots - still held in Bucks and Berks counties - once and for all.
Chaifetz called Clear Channel's decision a "blatent political move" to protect the attorney general, a Republican, who is running for governor.
Both Corbett's office and his campaign said that noone contacted Clear Channel about the billboard. Nils Frederickson, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said prosecuting pigeon shoots is not within the agency's jurisdiction.
"This is a matter for the local district attorneys to enforce," he said.
Hundreds of birds die in the pigeon shoots either immediately, after being launched from springloaded boxes and shot at close range, or days later from their wounds.
Chaifetz says the group's lawyers are reviewing the Clear Channel contract and that the group is shopping for a new billboard company.