In January, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) formally established its Ethics and Financial Integrity Commission (EFICOM), giving NRB members three months to comply or lose their membership. But according to those in charge of implementing the EFICOM program, the effort to ensure financial accountability among religious broadcasters has not progressed as swiftly as was hoped.

“The path we have undertaken is a very complex program,” said Thomas Zimmerman, the NRB official in charge of overseeing EFICOM. “We’ve made progress,” he said, but added that the three-month deadline was “very optimistic.”

One of the first tasks faced by EFICOM administrator Arthur Borden, who is also the president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), was to identify the actual membership of NRB. In the organization’s 1989 Directory of Religious Broadcasting, the organization is described as “a 1,450-member association of religious radio and television broadcasters.”

However, Borden says that number “refers to broadcast outlets [individual stations] of NRB members.” Actual membership is 825 organizations, according to Borden.

Of these, by press time only 64 had applied for and received EFICOM accreditation. An additional 96 were granted EFICOM approval by virtue of their membership in ECFA, whose standards are similar to EFICOM’s. Borden said 127 organizations have been identified as for-profit corporations (see “Corporate Primer,” right) and an additional 27 as foreign corporations. Neither of these two groups of broadcasters is required to abide by EFICOM standards.

Borden is still seeking information on 361 NRB members, the majority of which he suspects are profit-making corporations; this would explain why they have ...

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