Comcast Cable has decided not to accept firearm and ammunition commercials, leaving gun stores in the areas that it serves scrambling for new ways to advertise their wares.
Comcast, the largest cable TV operator in the US, made the decision last month finalising its purchase of media company NBC Universal, which according to Adweek magazine had had a long-standing ban place for the items and fireworks (See: Comcast to buy GE's stake in NBC Universal for $16.7 bn; to gain full control).
A Spokesman for Comcast Spotlight, the advertising sales division of Comcast said consistent with long-standing NBC policies Comcast Spotlight had decided it would not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward.
Comcast has operations across 39 states and the District of Columbia. The second largest cable provider in the country, Time Warner (TWC), operates in 29 states. Privately held Cox Communications, which serves over 20 states and is No 3 in size, already had restrictions on certain types of weapons ads.
Time Warner Cable announced in January, a month after the shooting of 27 people including 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut, by a gunman, that it would no longer allow ads showing semiautomatic weapons and guns pointed at people, Multichannel News magazine reported.
According to NBC's ad policy, it did not accept advertisements for weapons or fireworks, but commercials that included them as props would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile, gun control advocates have hailed Comcast's decision and hope other influential media businesses would take similar action. Restrictions already are in place at Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications on certain types of weapons ads.
Julia Chester, Midwest regional coordinator for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said it was a really brave move for Comcast, which deserved a standing ovation.
She added, advertising had such a huge impact on public opinion that the tipping point in the gun violence conversation had already been reached.
However, according to gun store owners, the ban on gun advertisements was singling out an industry. They point out that there were widespread advertisements for alcohol, which could lead to drunken driving deaths.
They point out that there were so many things that could harm people if they let it. They add buffets were so unhealthy they could lead to death by obesity complications. But nobody was going to stop advertising buffets.