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Posted by on Jul 22, 2008 in Media, Religion | 3 comments

God’s love, satellite delivered: Christian radio opposes local provisions

A bedrock of the traditional broadcasting model has long been localism. Among the best ways to meet the FCC mandate to serve the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” is to produce quality local programming. To that end the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last November proposing a range of options that encourage more locally-oriented radio.

Ars Technica tells us that Save Christian Radio (SCR) has put out a statement (pdf) claiming the proposals threaten their First Amendment rights and could silence religious broadcasters. They also reject the idea that stations should have local staff or be physically located within the communities they serve:

“If enacted, the [FCC’s] proposals could force Christian radio programmers to either compromise their messages by including input from those who don’t share the same values, or to run the risk of costly, long and potentially ruinous government inquiries,” SCR insists.

Perhaps the group also dislikes these suggestions because they inconvenience a Christian broadcasting movement that has become overly dependent on remote, satellite delivered programming down linked to studios where, much of the time, not a single human being works. […]

But the proposal that SCA likes the least is one that would require radio stations to establish regular community advisory boards, a common practice in public broadcasting. The FCC asks for comment as to how these boards should be selected and assembled, but tentatively concludes that they should consist of “officials and other leaders from the service area of its broadcast station.”

Station managers could hand pick the boards and the proposal does not require them to implement suggestions, only to consider them. That’s still too much for religious broadcasters.

Save Christian Radio also opposes rules that radio stations must more carefully keep track of their public affairs programming and make this record available even to “those who do not share Gospel values.” SCR condemns a proposal that stations must locate their main studio within their signal area, warning that the plan would “force many Christian stations to relocate their main studio facilities.” And it rejects the “physical presence” rule, which it protests would affect stations where “all the programming at that time is delivered by satellite.”

“God’s love may be free to all,” SCR warns, “but getting the word out will become even more expensive—perhaps too expensive for some radio stations.”

Reasonable people can debate these localism suggestions. But whether Save Christian Radio intended it or not, their statement gives the impression of a movement more paranoid about than concerned for the communities to which it broadcasts—intent on protecting a satellite-based, hyper-automated product that talks 24/7, but never has to listen to most of the souls in its local signal area.

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