Comcast, the world’s largest cable TV company has refused to broadcast advertisements that solicit information on the LDS Church’s tax-exempt status. This is because the activist behind the spots is unable to offer documentation of the financial holdings.
Comcast was supposed to start airing the advertisements for the MormonTips website on Wednesday in Salt Lake City said activist Fred Karger. A few hours after a news conference to promote the ads, Karger said that he got word from Comcast that they would not air the ads. “Our freedom of speech is denied, and that’s never happened to me before,” he said.
Tara Hunter, who is the spokeswoman for Comcast Spotlight, which is the advertising division of Comcast, issued a written statement explaining why they have declined the advertising.
“Upon review, the ad did not comply with our guidelines because the client was unwilling to provide substantiation for their claims and we do not accept ads that demean individuals or specific organizations,” the statement said. “We offered to review any additional spots the client was interested in airing.”
Hunter did not clarify what they found unsubstantiated in the ads. However, Tim Kay, who is the director of political strategy at NCC media, said that Comcast wanted what Karger does, which is the documentation about the money that the church has.
NCC media is the company that sells airtime to clients on behalf of the cable companies. There were four assertions in the thirty seconds spot that Comcast was much concerned about.
In the ad, Karger said that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than a trillion dollars in business holdings. He also said that the church brings in around eight billion and twenty billion dollars a year from its members.
Kay said that Comcast was also much concerned about the text shown in the ad that reads “Theme Park In Hawaii” and “City Creek Mall $2 Billion Cash.” The reference of Hawaiian theme park is to the Polynesian Cultural Center and the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City cost an estimated two billion dollars to build.
“Fred said he either didn’t have the information substantiating the finances,” Kay said, “or wasn’t interested in providing it, and at that point was told the ad would not run without providing it. And that’s where the conversation ended.”