FCC Ruling: Part Two

January 18, 2000

As I mentioned yesterday, a December 29, 1999 FCC ruling may affect Christian television. More than 125 non-commercial television broadcasters may be forced to drop religious programming.

A little history is in order. Broadcasters operating on non-commercial education licenses are required to devote at least one-half of their programming hours to topics that serve the "educational, instructional or cultural needs of the community." The recent FCC ruling stipulates that such programming must not be "primarily devoted to religious exhortation, proselytizing, or statements of personally-held religious views and beliefs."

One anonymous source at the FCC claimed that the case was chosen because the opinion did not have to invite public comment. The source also said that the Commission's staff deliberately delayed releasing the opinion until December 29 in an attempt to have it pass unnoticed in the hype over New Year's holiday and concern over Y2K.

Response has been growing this last week. The National Religious Broadcasters sent a memo to its 1200 members outlining the decision by the FCC. Various Christian talk shows have begun to discuss the issue and encouraged their audience to call members of Congress.

Representative Michael Oxley from Ohio plans to introduce legislation to reverse the FCC's guidelines. Oxley is the vice-chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications. He said, "In our free society, the FCC has no business suppressing the expression of religious belief. He added, "I know the FCC will try to put a good face on this action, but the simple truth is the Commission is restricting those who express faith. This is wrong, and it cannot stand."

Already various members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. If you share the concern about the FCC ruling, then I would encourage you to contact your member of Congress and express your opinion.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.