Armstrong Utiities is the nation’s 15th-largest cable provider and operates in 6 states including Ohio and Pennsylvania, two crucial battleground states in the 2012 election. In Ohio alone, Armstrong is available in over 50 cities and towns in 10 Ohio counties. So it’s all the more controversial that the cabler is offering the anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America as a “Free Movie Special” to all its subscribers on–demand at no charge.
News reports say top Armstrong executives are big donors to Republican politics. An Armstrong executive claimed to the Pittsburgh City Paper this promotion is not part of a partisan agenda. But he also confirmed that “This is the first time the cable provider has offered such a deal for a recently released feature film.” Armstrong claims it will offer a free recently released film each month to encourage use of its premium on-demand offerings. But the company acknowledges no other recent releases are currently available without charge. Polls show that Romney and Obama are tied in Ohio while the President has a slim lead in Pennsylvania. The filmmakers behind what is the second-most-successful political documentary in American box office history (behind Michael Moore’s liberal Fahrenheit 9/11, about the George W Bush presidency) had been seeking a network to air it before the November election. And they’ve attacked the mainstream media for “refusing” coverage. Meanwhile, the docu is also being shown at Evangelical Christian churches in battleground states.
The movie became available on DVD and for rental across the U.S. last week with Lionsgate distributing. But the co-writer, co-director, and author of the book behind 2016: Obama’s America Dinesh D’Souza — himself an evangelical Christian conservative — is no longer promoting the film in person after being caught in an embarrassing marital scandal.