Will the NBA Teach the Cable Industry to go Gunning for GunTV?




Just in time for the marathon Christmas Day viewing of NBA games, the National Basketball Association, in a powerful partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety, announced a high profile television PSA campaign featuring some of the games greatest stars.

Inspired by a meeting between filmmaker Spike Lee, who is a member of Everytown’s creative council, and ESPN, the NBA, fearlessly plunged into the fray, recognizing its moral and social responsibility to make neighborhoods less violent, in many of the communities which players, and fans, call home.

SF Warriors’ star Steph Curry is featured in one of the public service announcements, saying he was moved to take action when he heard about a recent three-year old victim of gun violence.

“My daughter Riley’s that age,” Curry says, bringing the message directly to tens of thousands of NBA fans who watched Curry introduce Riley to the national media last year, when the Warriors won the NBA World Championship.

Heading the effort for the NBA is friend and former colleague from the Administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York State, Kathy Behrens, who serves as the NBA’s President for Social Responsibility and Player Programs. Behrens is a dynamo with a conscience who gets things done, and turned New York Cares into one of the most successful non-profits in NYC, before being recruited by the NBA.

“ We know that far too many people have been caught up in gun violence in this country,” Behrens told the New York Times. “And, we can do something about it.”

The same passionate desire to constructively use his resources and save peoples’ lives was what motivated former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form Everytown For Gun Safety. With Bloomberg’s financial backing the group has become one of the nation’s most aggressive advocates of stricter limits on firearms sales in just a few short years.

It’s too bad the rest of the Cable Television industry—with the notable exception of ESPN, a partner with the NBA and Everytown– is choosing to totally abandon any sense of social responsibility when it comes to gun violence. In fact, one of the industry’s own insiders, Doug Bornstein, who helped launch over 15 shopping networks via Direct TV, Dish and all Cable Networks, is “doing something” about guns—he’s launching GunTV next month, to make more money by selling guns the way viewers can buy any product on QVC or the Home Shopping Network.

Bornstein, who was President/CEO of Broadcast Cable Media, Inc., for 30 years—a media buying agency specializing in long form advertising and shopping networks—has lots of friends in the Cable TV and Satellite business who see nothing wrong with putting more guns and ammunition in circulation. Cynically, Bornstein and his wife and business partner Valerie Castle, call GunTV’s parent company “The Social Responsibility Network.”

Apparently, “Social Responsibility” to Bornstein and Castle is defined as “responding to a nationwide love affair with shooting sports,” as Castle told The Desert Sun newspaper of Palm Springs last month. GunTV, whose plans came to light during the week of the San Bernadino gun-massacre, will be based out of a television studio in the Coachella Valley.

But the issue of social responsibility goes far beyond Bornstein and Castle, who plan to launch GunTV.tv (which they are cleverly disguising as “GTV Live Shopping”) on January 20, 2016. To set a date for a network launch, GunTV had to get major commitments and contracts from cable sytems and satellite carriers.   Who gave those commitments? Who signed those contracts? Why is Comcast’s Brian Roberts silent on this matter? His multi-billion dollar Cable conglomerate serves the most U.S. urban areas with the highest levels of gun violence in the world. Don’t you care about the lives of your customers, Brian? What about Time Warner Cable which serves LA and NYC? Are you carrying GunTV, Jeff Bewkes? Does GunTV pass any kind of standard of social responsibility? Does any standard of social responsibility even exist  for television or cable?   Where is the National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA) leadership on this? Why hasn’t the Federal Communications Commission expressed its’ disapproval? Are any products fair game to be sold on television? I’ll take two AK-47’s and a missile launcher, please.

It’s time for the NBA’s Kathy Behrens, Everytown’s Michael Bloomberg, the Warriors Steph Curry, and filmmaker Spike Lee to teach TV & Satellite industry execs what “Social Responsibilty” means. It won’t be found on GunTV.tv, where guns and ammo are plentiful and where their moral code is:  “Live Shopping.  Fully Loaded.”

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