Billboard lobbyists lined up some legislators to sponsor a bill that would allow the digital billboards along state highways in the countryside. The proposal would also allow each city to decide on its own if it wants the billboards.
The billboards, which critics call "TV on a stick," are up 400 percent nationally since 2005 , when the federal Highway Administration -- under pressure from the billboard industry -- reversed a longstanding ban.
Now some state lawmakers want to lift the ban on state highways, and the first hearing on the matter was held Tuesday.
Critics say state roads are already too cluttered, and allowing Clear Channel to install giant digital billboards will make it vastly worse.
Scenic roads around the state are also vulnerable, because the proposal would allow each city to decide whether or not to allow digital billboards inside city limits. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is considering it.
President Lyndon Johnson famously took on the billboard industry when he banned them on federal highways in an attempt to beautify America.
At the time, Johnson called industry leaders "a group of selfish, eager hogs," but a spokesman for for Clear Channel said they're not bullies, just running out of ways to advertise. The spokesman said the digital billboards would fit Seattle's techie image, but not everyone agrees.
"It's like having a giant TV, you know, on the side of the road. We don't need that," said Travis Metcalf of Seattle.
The organization Keep Washington Beautiful is also fighting the digital invasion.
"And now they're going to be flashing at you with lights every 8 seconds and different messages," said the organization's Paula Rees.