ICC Note: Another article in the could it happen here category. This kind of insanity is more and more accepted in Western Democracies as anti Christian sentiments increase.
Christian Radio Station Forced to Give Time to Other Faiths
Jennifer Green, The Ottawa Citizen
Canada.com When is a Christian radio station not a Christian radio station? For the hour or so a day that it must air the views of other faiths to satisfy the CRTC’s “balance” policy.
“It’s ridiculous,” says Bob Du Broy, vice-president of Ottawa ‘s CHRI Christian music station. “It’s like asking a rock station to play an hour of classical music.” CHRI’s announcers also find themselves in the bizarre situation of working for a Christian station without being able to talk much about Christianity for fear of triggering the “balance” issue.
Because CHRI 99.1 FM plays mostly music, its requirements for offsetting Christian proselytizing have been minimal at just over 30 minutes a week.
But now Mr. Du Broy wants to start a new Christian station, WORD FM, aimed at the growing radio audience older than 45, many of whom want Christian programming, but not the racket of rock music.
It would offer more than two-thirds spoken-word broadcasting with programs such as Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision and James Dobson’s Focus Weekend.
Religious music needn’t be offset with other faiths, but the broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, does require that spoken-word programming offer differing views. However, it is up to the applicant to propose just how this would be done.
Denis Carmel, the CRTC’s director of public relations, said “It’s unlikely that a single-faith station could be balanced (without some programming on other faiths).” Is it possible to get a licence without outside faith programming? “I’m not going to respond to that.” Mr. Du Broy figures the CRTC will want at least one hour and 11 minutes a day devoted to other faiths. To get that figure, he multiplied 67 per cent (the amount of talking on air) by 7.35 per cent (number of non-Christians in the Ottawa area) to come up with 4.9 per cent of the 24-hour broadcast day, or 71 minutes.
The problem is, Christian radio listeners don’t always care for the outside programming.
Many have enjoyed CHRI’s Reflections on the Torah but Their Days, five-minute segments on Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, have been less of a hit.
Mr. Du Broy says in his submission to the CRTC, “… on a regular basis we receive complaints from core listeners that a non-Christian message does not belong on a Christian radio station. Many listeners have told us that it is too good and may seduce young people into following other religions.” Counterbalancing religious points of view may sound like taking political correctness to extremes, but it comes out of a tumultuous history of religious broadcasting, stretching back the 1920s, when fiery radio preachers thought nothing of insulting other faiths over the airwaves.
A royal commission banned religious broadcasting, formed the forerunner of the CBC, and established strong federal control over the airwaves until the 1980s when the broadcast universe exploded with new channels and radio frequencies.
In 1993, the CRTC revisited its religious broadcasting policy, with long, heartfelt discussion of the requirements of balance. Ultimately, it decided to ease some requirements, particularly for specialty cable channels, but some commissioners dissented, cautioning: “We are disturbed by the extent of social, cultural, and racial intolerance which is often rooted in religious intolerance. One need only look to Bosnia, the Middle East, India, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and other world ‘trouble spots’ to observe this phenomenon in its most violent form. Such cultural and racial intolerance is less dramatic and violent, but no less real, in Canada .” The United States had a similar “fairness” doctrine which was repealed in 1987. However, as conservative radio programs dominate the airwaves, there has been some talk recently of bringing it back, much to the alarm of some Christians, appalled at the thought of having to air the views of gay rights activists or secularists.