NRATV Ceasing Live Programming

The National Rifle Association is reportedly ceasing streaming live video on its branded online TV service, NRATV, which launched in 2016.

The New York Times reported the decision, made June 25, might not impact catalog programming. However, live content produced by media firm Ackerman McQueen and featuring spokesperson Dana Loesch, among others, would end.

At issue was the streaming service’s increasingly hyper-partisan content and the costs to create original programming for a monthly viewership that totaled just 49,000 unique visitors in January, according to comScore.

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“Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA, wrote in a message to members obtained by The Times. “So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming.”

Indeed, the national gun rights lobby, which in recent years has faced allegations of fiscal irresponsibility by some leaders, and investigative overtures by New York Attorney General Letitia James over its tax-exempt status, faced a backlash last year when Loesch hosted a segment on NRATV featuring characters from longstanding pre-school TV show “Thomas & Friends” wearing Klu Klux Klan hoods in front of burning tracks.

The racist depictions were a crude attempt at sarcasm by Loesch in response to “Thomas & Friends” diversifying its cast of TV train characters, including adding a new locomotive named “Nia,” from Kenya.

“NRATV was a malevolent and destructive force that infected public discussions with dangerous misinformation, fomented extremism, and increasingly promoted actual white supremacists,” Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, said in a statement.
“The fact that NRATV was brought down due in large part to internal strife that catalyzed following public blowback over NRATV attacking a children’s [TV] show for its diversity efforts is another potent reminder that sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Mattel, which owns the Thomas the Tank Engine brand, denounced the depiction, saying it violated the company’s policy for inclusivity and kindness.
“We are not associated with images that promote hate and denounce any images of our brands that are being used to convey a message not in line with the values of the company,” Mattel said in a statement last September.