Bill in Congress Turning Off Televangelists
A bill proposed by a Republican member of the House has religious broadcasters crying foul. Earlier this month Rep. Steve Scalise introduced legislation that would put an end to ‘must carry’ rules that allow less popular shows and local shows to remain on the air, potentially giving the boot to religious broadcasts on some networks.
Scalise’s measure seeks to deregulate the airways, a move the Louisiana representative insists time has come since newer satellite channel lineups give a wide variety of options that allow customers to pick and choose what they decide to view.
One of the consequences of this bill is that religious broadcasters, who often draw smaller audiences and local crowds, may be kicked off the air by cable companies who decide that they no longer want to carry the televangelist’s shows.
Dr. Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters said the passage of Scalise’s bill “would be a significant detriment to a number of Christian TV stations and the viewers who rely on them for spiritual guidance.”
He added that while podcasts and other internet options exist to reach viewers, “These long-standing carriage rules ensure that viewers can access the important and edifying programming their local Christian broadcasters offer free-of-charge.”
Colby May, an attorney for Trinity Broadcasting Network, agreed. “Anytime you decide that you’re going to change the marketplace without really understanding the marketplace we think it is a mistake, and I’m sorry that Rep. Scalise didn’t seem to know that.”
It is unclear yet if the bill would impact small local worship broadcasts in the same way as large national Christian broadcasts such as the Trinity Broadcasting Network or Pat Robertson’s CBN. CBN predicts the change in ‘must carry’ would have only “minimal impact” as a result of 700 Club.
Yet large and small alike think the change in ‘must carry’ laws will lead to a further denigration to what is shown in American homes.
Craig Parshall, senior vice president of the National Religious Broadcasters demands that if passed, cable networks will dump healthy programming and “seek profits from programming that includes sex, violence, and profanity inimical to the development of healthy families and communities.”
Photo Credit: Screenshot/CBN