POLITICS

Comcast pulls local stores’ commercials over gun policy

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

Comcast is slowly but surely erasing guns from all its advertising, and shop owners in Georgia and New Jersey are the latest to be told their ads will be pulled if they don’t take out all reference to weapons.

Ray Reynolds owns United Loan and Firearms, a pawn shop in Augusta. He told the Augusta Chronicle on Monday he was notified last week that his ads would be pulled from the local Comcast cable station unless he took out all references to guns — including in his shop name.

“What really got me was when they said that we had enough name recognition that we could get by with just saying United Loan,” Reynolds told the Chronicle. “They were going to actually make us eliminate ‘Firearms’ from our name.”

Reynolds said he has advertised with Comcast for several years. A United Loan and Firearms ad uploaded to YouTube a month ago runs 47 seconds long, and guns are visible inside the shop for about 17 seconds.

Reynolds doesn’t sell assault rifles, he said. His shop also sells jewelry, non-lethal self defense weapons, musical instruments and other items.

Walden’s Outdoors in Martinez sells sells archery equipment and firearms, and has also advertised for several years with Comcast. Owner Eddie Walden found out Monday that his commercials also will be pulled if he doesn’t remove weapons from his ads.

“I think it’s wrong,” Walden told the Chronicle. “I look at it as a free-speech thing.”

Comcast has offered to redo Walden’s ad for free, but he said he’s unsure whether he’ll continue advertising with them.

“I’ve got to look at the principle of it,” he said. “Do I want to support them if they’re going to be anti what I’m doing?”

Advertisers in California and Michigan reported last month that their ads were being pulled or canceled for the same reason.

Comcast says their policy was put in place after the company purchased NBCUniversal in February. Comcast’s statement has been the same in every case from Los Angeles to Augusta:

“Consistent with long standing NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward. This policy aligns us with the guidelines in place at many media organizations.”

The company has not addressed why its policy addresses new advertising, but current advertisements are being pulled.

UPDATED, March 28:

Jean Smith, manager of Just Sports in Cape May County, N.J., told The Washington Examiner her store was also told it would need to remove all weapons from its commercial. In addition to sports equipment, the shop sells hunting and paintball gear.

So they removed the gun footage and updated their ad to say, ”Your place for home security and self defense.” But Comcast said that wording was unacceptable, too.

Now Just Sports has a sign up in their window urging customers to switch to Direct TV. Comcast has a monopoly on “drop advertising,” which means they can run local ads during national shows, Smith said. But her company is switching anyway.

“We’re living what we believe,” she said.

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