Local gun shops in the Comcast Corp. cable-TV territory, which extends over an area of 50 million U.S. homes, won't have the option of advertising on Comcast after this month.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable system and a media conglomerate, says it banned gun and weapons advertisements to align its advertising policies with those at NBCUniversal, the news and entertainment company it acquired control of in early 2011.
Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said the White House did not request that the company stop advertising firearms. The entertainment industry participated in government discussions over gun violence following the mid-December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The decision was made by the Comcast Spotlight division that sells two or three minutes of local advertising each hour on cable networks, said Comcast spokesman Chris Ellis.
Gun-shop owners who feel they are being blamed for gun violence expressed dismay.
Wayne Viden, part owner of Bob's Little Sport Shop in Glassboro, said Comcast told him they did not want his TV commercial that showed guns, as well as boys shooting archery.
"That's kind of stupid because that's our business," said Viden, who had advertised for several years on Comcast cable in South Jersey. He was told he would have to create new advertisements to conform to the rules.
"It's frustrating most of all," Viden said. "We're trying to run an honest business, and we are trying to show the shooting sports in a positive and safe light, and they don't want that."
Mike Fotia, manager of Duke's Sport Shop in New Castle, Pa., near Pittsburgh, said Monday: "There are other groups on TV that I don't particularly care for, but I still have to pay attention to them when they're on TV. To me, it's like free speech."
The Comcast Spotlight policy was disclosed to advertisers in early February, though the advertisements under contract could run through the end of this month.
Comcast Spotlight sold $2.3 billion in local, regional, and national advertising in 2012, and firearm-related advertising was considered a small part of that total.
The Comcast Spotlight's prohibition on firearms and weapons advertising extends to the NBC Sports Network, formerly an outdoors channel, Ellis said Monday.
After Sandy Hook, NBC Sports Network suspended gun programming and gun advertising not related directly to hunting.