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NBC Sports Sticks With Sponsorship of Gun Show

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Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- NBC Sports, home to gun-control advocate Bob Costas, is sticking with its commitment to be a sponsor of the largest U.S. gun trade show next week, a month after a school shooting in Connecticut killed 20 children.

NBC Sports Network will remain the 2013 SHOT Show New Product Center Sponsor, said Greg Hughes, a spokesman for the channel. Costas, one of NBC’s marquee broadcasters, criticized gun laws weeks before the Connecticut shooting, after the murder-suicide of a Kansas City Chiefs football player.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc.’s SHOT Show last year billed itself as “more than about selling and buying; it’s a powerful display of industry unity and its resolve to meet any challenge affecting the right to make, sell and own firearms.” The NSSF is headquartered in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in an elementary school on Dec. 14 with a semiautomatic rifle.

NBC Sports Network, formerly called Versus, has been a sponsor of the show for “several years,” according to Hughes. The cable channel airs hunting and fishing shows and participates as a sponsor “as part of our commitment to our outdoor-programming block,” he said in a phone interview.

The SHOT Show -- SHOT stands for shooting, hunting, outdoor trade -- takes place from Jan. 15 to Jan. 18 in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo & Convention Center. Other sponsors include the Outdoor Channel, the Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram and ArmaLite Inc.

NSSF President Steve Sanetti said he had never seen the organization “so unified and united” in its purpose, according to a January 2012 statement. The group is a member of the White House panel that’s discussing gun regulations.

‘Too Easy’

Costas, who has worked for NBC since 1980, said it was “too easy” to access guns, specifically semiautomatic weapons, in an interview on “The Dan Patrick Show” last month. Costas appeared on Patrick’s show after reading an editorial critical of gun laws by Jason Whitlock, a Fox Sports columnist, during halftime of NBC’s Sunday Night Football on Dec. 2.

Comcast Corp. owns 51 percent of NBC Universal, which includes NBC Sports. D’Arcy Rudnay, a Comcast spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Chiefs, shot the mother of his child and then himself on Dec. 1, police said.

President Barack Obama formed a panel last month to develop new gun regulations that Vice President Joe Biden yesterday said include more extensive background checks and restrictions on large-capacity bullet magazine clips.

The nonprofit group Media Matters for America, which says its objective is to identify and correct “conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” noted the NBC sponsorship earlier today on its website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net; Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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