FW: FCC Sets Sights On Religious Broadcasters
dlaycock at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU
Tue Jan 11 09:27:48 PST 2000
This news story came to me from evangelical sources. CNSNews may be
Christian News Service, but I am not sure of that.
>Source: FCC Sets Sights On Religious Broadcasters
>(CNSNews.com) - A high-ranking source at the Federal Communications
>Commission, discussing new FCC regulations limiting religious content on
>noncommercial television broadcasts, told CNSNews.com Monday that the
>agency "has had [religious broadcasters] in their sights for at least a
>The source, who is familiar with the case of WQED-TV in Pittsburgh and its
>proposed licensing swap with religious broadcaster Cornerstone TeleVision -
>which was first reported Wednesday by CNSNews.com - said on condition of
>anonymity that "certain commissioners have been discussing how best to rein
>in NCETV (noncommercial educational television) licensees for a while, on
>separation of church and state grounds."
>While the source would not name specific commissioners from the five member
>board, Chairman William Kennard and Commissioners Gloria Tristani and Susan
>Ness, all Democrats appointed by President Clinton, assented to the new
>regulations. Commissioners Harold Furchtgott-Roth and Michael Powell
>"They've been looking for a test case, and they found one in this license
>swap," the source continued.
>The source also claimed that the case was chosen because, as an
>adjudicatory opinion, the Commission did not have to invite public comment
>on the changes - and said that the Commission's staff deliberately delayed
>releasing the opinion until December 29th in an attempt to have it pass
>unnoticed in the hype over New Year's holiday and the Y2K.
>A spokesperson for the FCC, contacted by CNSNews.com, called the
>allegations "preposterous" and said they "had no basis in fact."
>"The detailed language of the WQED decision itself and the separate
>statements of the commissioners clearly demonstrates a respect for the
>programming discretion of all broadcasters, specifically including
>religious broadcasters," the spokesperson continued.
>As first reported by CNSNews.com, the new guidelines require broadcasters
>operating on noncommercial educational licenses to devote at least one-half
>of their programming hours to topics that serve the "educational,
>instructional or cultural needs of the community." To qualify, the
>Commission continued, that programming must not be "primarily devoted to
>religious exhortation, proselytizing, or statements of personally-held
>religious views and beliefs."
>Last Thursday, four Republican congressmen sent letters to the chairman of
>the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Vice President Al Gore,
>saying that the agency "had no business - no business whatsoever - singling
>out religious programming for special scrutiny" and called the new
>guidelines "an unconstitutional restriction on religious speech."
>The letter was cosigned Thursday by Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH), Rep. Chip
>Pickering (R-MS), Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), and Rep. Steve Largent (R-OK).
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dlaycock at mail.law.utexas.edu
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