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Archive for March 12th, 2019

Yesterday, the New York Times had this story on some of the NRA Board questioning what the Times referred to as “Incendiary Videos” that are produced by the ad company used by NRA and posted on the NRATV streaming web site.  At the heart of the piece is the ongoing saga of the financial position NRA finds itself in the Trump era, and what role NRATV has played in it.

Fifteen years ago, NRA created NRANews, a response to the McCain/Feingold campaign finance law that prohibited certain paid political speech, but gave a monopoly to media outlets through an exemption in the law.   Portions of the law were later ruled unconstitutional.

NRA rolled out the web based talk program called Cam and Company, featuring Cam Edwards, at it’s 2004 Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh and for three hours a day, they streamed the program on the web as well as aired live on satellite radio.  Over the course of the 15 years, the program aired at different times, originally from 2:00 – 5:00 pm, moving to 9:00 PM to midnight to accommodate satellite radio, then back to the 2:00 – 5:00 pm time slot when Sirius XM decided to air the program on tape delay.  During this time they also started making the program available by podcast and also made it available on ITunes and later IHeart Radio.  This meant that fans could listen to the program at their convenience and did not have to be near a computer to hear it live.

The program featured a mix of all things gun news and also covered conservative politics, as elected supporters of gun rights became more Republican and supporters among Democratic elected officials, at least at the national level, continued to dwindle.  It was also a vehicle to bring events like the Shot Show, NRA Annual Meetings, and the new Great American Outdoor show to people that may not have the ability to intend in person.

As the politics of gun rights changed, so too did the NRANews web site.  Besides airing Cam and Company, it also started to produce programing like Noir featuring YouTube gun aficionado Colion Noir, Love at First Shot – a program aimed at the growing number of women shooters, and promotional videos aimed at increasing membership.  While no one could accuse Edwards of being “incendiary” – he’s one of the nicest people you could meet – the mainstream media and gun ban supporters more and more began to criticize the “promotional videos” that way.  Late last year, amid reporting of cut backs at NRA, NRATV abruptly stopped airing Cam and Company and let some longtime staff go.  A revamped Cam and Company began airing again in January 2019 – a 30 minute program at 5:30 that leads into Dana Loesch’s 6:00 PM program.

The Times article notes that NRA provided the critiques from two prominent board members, including former NRA President Marion Hammer:

Since the founding of NRATV, some, including myself and other board members, have questioned the value of it,” Marion Hammer, the group’s most formidable lobbyist and a key adviser to its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, said in a statement. “Wayne has told me and others that NRATV is being constantly evaluated — to make sure it works in the best interest of the organization and provides an appropriate return on investment.

Another Board Member,  Willes Lee of Virginia, said this:

It is clear to me that NRATV is an experiment and Wayne is evaluating the future of the enterprise,” Willes K. Lee, a board member who leads the N.R.A. Outreach Committee, said in a statement to The Times.

When NRANews transformed and first launched as NRATV, it could be viewed as the NRA entering the streaming arena, making it’s broader television programming – reruns of hunting and gun shows that had aired on Outdoor Channel – more readily available, in addition to the Cam and Company program.   It also became a vehicle to push out more political programming.

This observer believes there is some value to NRATV – the continued airing of Cam and Company as well as programming like Love at First Shots which features World Champion Shooter  Julie Golob.  It will be up to the Board to determine if NRATV can continue in a cost effective manner.

 

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