NEW YORK – Major cable provider Charter Communications – apparently fearful of angering the Obama administration while a giant merger deal was pending– has barred its cable outlet near the Whiteman AFB drone control center in Missouri from carrying a paid advertisement urging drone operators to refuse to fly missions.
Charter made this decision to censor the spot (which is critical of the Obama Administration drone program) on April 22, 2016, according to email from a media ad buyer, while it was awaiting approval by the administration’s Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission for its $88 billion merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
Just days after banning the anti-drone spot, on April 25, the Justice Department approved the deal, with conditions. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the same day he would vote for the merger, but the entire commission has yet to vote. The deal is also awaiting approval by California regulators.
The ad (www.knowdrones.com/2016/01/help-show-the-real-truth-to-us-tv-audiences.html) was produced by Knowdrones.com and paid for by Peaceworks-Kansas City and Knowdrones.com in advance of Peaceworks’ April 30 protest against the U.S. drone war campaign that will be held at the Whiteman AFB near Knob Noster MO, a community in which Charter is the cable provider.
In an effort to determine whether Charter was banning the ad because of its sometimes graphic images of children killed by U.S drones, Knowdrones asked if Charter would run the :15 second spot with no images, just a black screen with white text carrying the anti-drone message. The ad buyer reported that Charter “will not accept the spot even when it’s only dark screen with text due to subject content.”
“At a time when the U.S. press is avoiding coverage of the U.S. drone war, which has killed at least 6,500 people without due process,” said Knowdrones coordinator Nick Mottern, “it is tragic for the victims of U.S. drone attacks and the U.S. public that Charter extends this censorship even into paid advertising. Apparently, even if we pay for advertising, corporations seeking favors from the government will censor spots deemed to make the current administration look bad.”
Versions of the subject ad have been run by cable providers near other U.S. drone control and training intelligence centers at Creech AFB, Beale AFB and Hancock Air National Guard base, among others.
The Charter merger will bring its subscriber base to 18 million, behind Comcast’s 22 million and ahead of AT&Ts 16 million, according to Wired.com.