Should religious broadcasting be allowed to continue in the United States?
That, says Executive Secretary Ben Armstrong of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), is the question proposed in a petition currently before the Federal Communications Commission.
The petition was the main discussion topic at last month’s thirty-second annual convention of the NRB in Washington, D. C. Some broadcasters dismissed the twenty-page document as a nuisance submission, but Armstrong and others feel it constitutes a serious threat to religious broadcasting. They have until March 17 to file their response with the FCC.
Drawn up by Jeremy D. Lansman and Lorenzo W. Milam of Los Gatos, California, the petition requests a freeze on all applications by religious institutions for FM and TV channels allocated to educational broadcasters. It asks for an FCC investigation to determine whether religious licensees in the educational category are living up to the Fairness Doctrine in presenting matters of controversial importance or whether “they are relying solely on music and talk which is tainted with the ennui so characteristic of American Fundamental Religion.” It also asks the FCC to “institute some divestiture process” for religious broadcasters.
In his column in the current issue of Religious Broadcasting magazine, Armstrong warns that the divestiture request affects all religious stations and program producers. In its context, however, the request seems to be aimed at only the educational channels. Armstrong estimates there are about seventy-five religious stations on the educational bands. These include several criticized by name in the petition, among them FM stations operated by Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. ...1
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