The initial “buzz” around the National Religious Broadcasters Conference in Orlando has been somewhat political. Specifically – the fairness doctrine and pending hate crimes legislation. If the fairness doctrine plays out as many on congress want, it would probably be the death of religious broadcasting as we know it. Some might think that’s not so bad, but I think it’s long term impact would be a disaster. Plus, “hate crime” legislation easily slides into “hate speech” legislation, which is a terrible slope meant to silence public speech.
In its most simple expression, the fairness doctrine forces TV stations to provide additional time for opposing views. In the case of Christian radio and television, they would have to shoulder the expense of other viewpoints being broadcast on their media outlets.
Fairness was one thing back in the early days of broadcasting, with limited radio and TV networks, and little access to the airwaves. But today, media access is much more broad, and just as religious organizations own TV stations and networks, so do a wide range of many other organizations.
And I’m not talking about just a different opinion about some minor religious issue. A local religious TV or radio station would have to go to their donors and tell them that half of their donations would be used to support opposing views to Christianity. You think your donation is being use to advance the cause of Christianity, but half of it would be forced by governmental mandate to pay for the promotion of Islam or other religion.
On the hate crime issue, one politician recently said the “the Bible is filled with hate speech.” Hate speech laws open the door to the Thought Police, and as professional communicators, that would totally undermine free speech in America.
Many people have issues with the NRB, but in my opinion, their number one focus is addressing these issues at the political level. Keeping media access for churches, ministries, and religious broadcasters is the most important thing they do, and without that function, there isn’t any others that I know of who are prepared to go into that battle.