Macro-media consolidation has distressed civil libertarians for decades. Second Amendment advocates now share this concern with the recent announcement by Comcast Corp. that it will no longer accept gun-related commercials on its extensive media networks, which include holdings in television, cable, Internet, radio, and voice services in two-thirds of the nation's markets.
Philadelphia-based Comcast is one of the biggest media corporations in the world with annual revenues exceeding $55 billion. In early February, it announced it had acquired NBC Universal from GE in a deal valued at $16.7 billion.
In a Feb. 8 statement, Comcast said it would adopt the advertising guidelines used by NBCUniversal, which has banned ads for fireworks and firearms since June 2012.
In a Feb. 19 statement provided to MSN News, Comcast Spotlight, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, said: "Consistent with longstanding 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."
Gun retailers and fans of outdoor sportsman shows on outdoor networks are not happy. Among those startled by the announcement is Williams Gun Sight and Outfitters, a Michigan-based company, which could not re-air an advertisement they played on outdoors network last fall because of Comcast's new no gun ads policy.
Some say the ban could spark multi-million dollar lawsuits in multiple states from class-action lawyers, claiming that denial of ad placement will cost the weapons industry billions of dollars in revenue.
Others say Comcast's gun ad ban could infringe on First Amendment free speech protections.
John Kupiec, president of the advertising agency Canadian American Corp., says since Comcast is the monopoly cable provider in two-thirds of the markets in the country, its policy now affects every cable channel, every major network and major advertisers, including Cabela's and Walmart.
"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," Kupiec told CBS Detroit Managing Editor Christy Strawser.