Roku rejects call to drop NRA TV channel

Streaming service Roku has rejected calls to pull the plug on a channel operated by the National Rifle Association, after antigun activists, outraged over the Feb. 14 massacre at Parkland High School in South Florida that left 17 people dead, pushed the company to sever its ties with the NRA. 

Roku, a closely held company, saNRA TV is complying with its content policies. Roku says it doesn't censor or curate channels based on their content if they are operating lawfully otherwise. 

"We do not and have not ever had a commercial relationship with the NRA," wrote Roku spokeswoman Tricia Misfud in an email. "We too want to see an end to these terrible tragedies."

NRA TV, which describes itself as a "comprehensive" news source on Second Amendment issues, is free to Roku users and doesn't carry any ads. Roku, which was founded in 2002, allows users to watch streaming services such as Netflix (NFLX) on their TVs. It makes most of its money selling its digital media player and sells advertisements on other channels.


Activists have also targeted Apple (AAPL), Alphabet's YouTube (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN), which also operate streaming services. Several Twitter (TWTR) users said they would drop their Apple TV and Amazon Prime Streaming services if the companies don't meet their demands. The hashtag #DumpNRA TV is trending on Twitter. Spokespeople for Apple, YouTube and Amazon didn't respond to a request for comment.

According to the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America, which has monitored NRA TV for years, the channel's content presents viewers with misleading information about gun control.

"It's not like [right-wing conspiracy theorist] Alex Jones, where it's just so obviously disreputable or ridiculous," said Angelo Carusone, executive director of Media Matters. "They pump up a bunch of statistics and bogus numbers that really make it seem like you need a gun to protect yourself."

Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the NRA, accused critics of the gun rights group of being hypocritical, saying the organization has always "been the biggest defender of free speech."

"I find it interesting that those individuals who simultaneously preach about free speech want to silence the speech of the millions of people who make up NRA membership," she wrote on Twitter.

But Carusone rejected Loesch's argument. "You don't have a rational debate with somebody when the implication is that if you push back too hard, they will shoot you," he said. He has organized advertiser boycotts of conservative Fox News broadcasters Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity but isn't behind the effort against NRA TV.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, at least a dozen companies, including insurance giant Chubb (CB), United Continental Airlines (UAL) and Wyndham Worldwide hotels (WYN) have severed ties with the NRA and no longer offer discounts to its members. In a statement issued Saturday, the organization vowed not to cave into the demands of its critics.

"Let it be absolutely clear," the NRA said. "The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world."

On Monday, FedEx (FDX) said it plans to keep offering discounts to NRA members, though it said it disagrees with the organization about gun policy. FedEx said it would "not deny service or discriminate against any legal entity regardless of their policy positions or political views."

  • Jonathan Berr On Twitter»

    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.