Ray Reynolds is up in arms after Comcast banned commercials for his downtown Augusta pawnshop.
Unless he removes weapons from the ads, the cable giant won’t run the commercials for United Loan and Firearms.
Reynolds, who manages the Broad Street store, was notified Thursday that he would be required to remove any reference or image of weapons from his current ad in order to comply with Comcast’s new policy, which was put in place after the company purchased NBCUniversal. The policy adheres to NBC standards.
“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 said. “They were going to actually make us eliminate ‘Firearms’ from our name.”
The business’s most recent commercial, a spoof of the reality show Pawn Stars, shows firearms on the rack and inside the counter in less than 25 percent of the video, Reynolds said.
The store also sells nonlethal self-protection devices, jewelry and other items. The ad did not show, nor does the store sell, so-called assault weapons, he said.
Reynolds was told by his Comcast representative that the move was made after the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed.
Chris Ellis, the senior director of communications for Comcast Spotlight, which is the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, responded to requests for information with a statement: “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.”
Attempts for additional information went unanswered.
The decision is hypocritical, Reynolds said, because Comcast continues to air violent shows and movies.
“The federal government is issuing us a license and says it’s OK for us to sell guns,” Reynolds said. “That’s out-and-out censorship for Comcast to decide. That’s them pushing their political agenda.”
Though Reynolds has advertised with Comcast for several years, he said he’ll now switch entirely to WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone, which acquired Knology in mid-2012. It doesn’t have a policy that prohibits advertising of guns or weapons, said the company’s organizational communications manager, Erica Stull.
Eddie Walden, the owner of Walden’s Outdoors in Martinez, has advertised for several years with Comcast. His family-owned business sells archery equipment, firearms and accessories.
He found out Monday that his commercials also will be pulled if changes aren’t made to eliminate the depiction of weapons.
“I think it’s wrong,” Walden said. “I look at it as a free-speech thing.”
Walden’s Comcast representative has offered to rework the ad at no additional cost, but Walden said he’s still unsure what he’ll do.
“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?”
The Gun Rack co-owner Stephanie Scott advertises locally through broadcast television, not Comcast.
“That was a rash decision on their part,” she said. “I think they’re probably losing a lot of customers immediately with that decision.”