As of February 8, Comcast has decided to ban gun and fireworks related ads, which has caught some firearm retailers by surprise. Because Comcast serves about two thirds of the American cable market and owns NBCUniversal, the ban will affect many regions and advertisers—most notably Cabela’s and Walmart.
Ad agencies with gun retailer clients such as the Canadian American Corp. are finding that Comcast’s monopoly on cable service will effectively prevent any gun ads from being shown, since there are many regions where there are no other cable providers offering service.
Canadian American Corp. ad agency president John Kupiec said, “The next step is we want to get the lawmakers on Capitol Hill to review the monopolistic rights this company (Comcast) currently enjoys as the largest cable provider in the United States.”
Comcast released a statement regarding the new policy, explaining that the “policy aligns us with the guidelines in place at many media organizations.”
Michigan based firearms retailer Williams Gun Sight and Outfitters are disappointed and frustrated with the decision. The company’s COO Dan Compeau said, “We’re a perfectly legal company selling a perfectly legal product and they have chosen us out of all the industries out there to make a stand on what’s right or wrong.”
“We were totally caught off guard by it. All these TV stations are taking millions, if not billions, from alcohol companies — and alcohol deaths, alcohol sickness … way outpaces anything a gun can do. They’re two-faced.
“We follow all the rules and regulations, they’ve picked us to be holier than thou about … There are a lot of other issues out there that they ignore. I’m sure they air many other shows where people get shot, killed, blown up.”
As an advertising veteran since 1980, Kupiec claims that he has never experienced a major ban until now. The ban is so far-reaching that even if an individual channel is willing to accept gun ads, it won’t be aired as long as the channel is distributed through Comcast: “If you’re a gun range, if you sell firearms, ammunition, whatever, they will not accept your advertising,” he explained. “That applies to The Outdoor Channel, NBC Sports … If I wanted to buy [spots on] The Discovery Channel, Comcast will not allow those advertisements on the air.”
With the Sandy Hook shootings fresh in everybody’s minds, policymakers are eager to do anything just to stop the violence. Still, Comcast is looking to set the bar higher for advertising responsibility—which is always a good thing, no matter what industry it’s applied to. However, it remains to be seen if the advertising ban will actually reduce gun violence.