Comcast now agrees to air pro-gay, anti-Mormon cable ads, LGBT activist Karger says

Comcast Corp. has agreed to broadcast anti-Mormon Church cable ads in Utah, with some modifications, resolving a two-week-long dispute between the media giant and a California-based LGBT activist.

"I'm elated that Comcast heard our cries," the activist, Fred Karger, said in a phone interview Wednesday, adding, "It would have been easier if we didn't have to go through all this."

Karger's goal is to glean tipster information from insiders to challenge the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' tax-exempt status. In the ads, young former Mormon Church members -- who answered a casting call in Utah -- ask viewers to help uncover the church's "vast business holdings" and "secret political activities," directing tipsters to mormontips.com.

Karger said the Mormon Church discriminates against gays and their children.

Karger will have to reshoot a few seconds of the 30-second cable ads to make it clear that he is speculating that the Mormon Church owns $1 trillion in assets, both he and Comcast said. But other parts of the advertisements will not be changed.

To resolve the dispute, Karger, who had posted a letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on his California group's website, rightsequalrights.com, had a one-on-one meeting at the Comcast Center on Saturday with a senior vice president. Karger was traveling on the East Coast, allowing him to come to Philadelphia.

Company spokeswoman Tara Hunter confirmed Wednesday that Comcast and Karger had agreed on changes to the ads, and that Comcast will show them after they are made and approved. There is no broadcast schedule yet, she said.

Through its Comcast Spotlight subsidiary, Comcast is one of the nation's largest sellers of local advertising. The company initially approved the cable ads for broadcast in five Utah television markets. But Karger said they were canceled after he held a news conference in Salt Lake City two weeks ago announcing the launch of the ad campaign. 

Comcast told Karger after it canceled the ads that it would not broadcast unsubstantiated claims or advertisements that demeaned individuals or organizations. Karger said he has now substantiated the claims, pointing Comcast to public documents.