A coalition of conservative Christian organizations wants the federal government to regulate the cable industry. To protect children from obscenity and violence, they want consumers to select only the channels they want. But some Christians say this would prevent millions from hearing the gospel.
The issue has driven a wedge between anti-indecency activists and Christian broadcasters. Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council have been lobbying Congress against the pleas of broadcasters, who worry that offering à la carte cable would cut fatally into their programs.
"It limits what they believe is their fulfillment of the Great Commission," said Colby May, attorney for the Faith and Family Broadcasting Coalition, which includes Trinity Broadcasting Network's Paul Crouch, Christian Broadcasting Network's Pat Robertson, and pastor Jerry Falwell. "If you don't go into all the highways and the byways, where the hurt are located, you won't reach them." Few non-Christians would order religious stations, May said.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin supports à la carte programming. Most observers note that the FCC, which can fine broadcast stations for indecent content, lacks authority to penalize errant cable channels.
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said the cable industry should police itself. In late November, he threatened action if the industry didn't devise a plan for meeting "the demands of the family community" by the end of 2005.
Giving people a choice could be costly. The nonpartisan General Accounting Office has reported that unbundling subscriptions would drive up the cost of cable by demanding greater service from the provider.
Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
News elsewhere on the broadcast indecency debate includes:
A la carte cable debate creates odd bedfellows | Trying to preserve their electronic pulpits, the nation's religious broadcasters find themselves in the unusual position of fighting an effort by anti-indecency groups to thwart channels offering racy programming. (Los Angeles Times, via Pittsburg Post Gazette, Dec. 4, 2005)
Multicasting Tops Christian Coalition Agenda | The conservative lobby, which says it represents over 2 million "people of faith," has been pushing hard for the mandatory carriage, including putting out an action alert to members last fall. It argues that, without a government mandate that cable carry broadcasters' multiple digital channels, religious TV stations without the leverage to gain carriage will be squeezed out. (Broadcasting & Cable, Dec. 27, 2005)
Indecency, unbundling: cable TV's battle front | The war over unwanted or racy content escalates from rhetoric to rules (Denver Post, Dec. 11, 2005)
Congress and the FCC Turn Up the Heat | Congress and the FCC turn up the heat (Broadcasting & Cable, Dec. 5, 2005)
Past Christianity Today coverage of television indecency includes:
Clean Air for Ears | The FCC has rejoined the war against indecency. (June 3, 2004)
NRB Head: Indecent Airwaves Debate Is Opportunity | Frank Wright says issues over public interest may reshape views of Christian media. (March 25, 2004)
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
More from this Issue
Read These Next
- TrendingDied: Pat Robertson, Broadcast Pioneer Who Brought Christian TV to the MainstreamWith CBN, “The 700 Club,” Regent, the Christian Coalition, and a run for president, he changed evangelicals’ place in public life.FrançaisIndonesianрусскийУкраїнська
- From the MagazineHow One Family’s Faith Survived Three Generations in the PulpitWith a front-row seat to their parents’ failures and burnout, a long line of pastor’s kids still went into ministry. Why?
- RelatedDon’t Pretend the Ugandan Homosexuality Law Is ChristianNot everything that’s a sin is a crime—let alone one punishable by death.Français简体中文繁體中文
- Editor's PickPCA’s 50th Anniversary Comes During a Season of GriefPresbyterians expect less fight and more fatigue as they gather following the Covenant shooting and the deaths of Harry Reeder and Tim Keller.