Over the past several months many press stories and
radio programs have been dedicated to the threat to
freedom of speech by a federal law re-instituting
the Fairness Doctrine.
The fundamental thrust of this proposed law would
mandate opposing points of view be aired on all
radio stations covering an issue, i.e., if a station
runs a program concerning the sanctity of marriage
as an institution of man and woman, it would have to
run the opposing view.
If adopted, such a law would obviously wreak havoc
on Catholic broadcasters. Fortunately, all
indications are that this proposal will not find its
way into law. A much more insidious proposal,
however, likely will. While most broadcasters and
civil libertarians have focused on the detrimental
effects of the Fairness Doctrine, a back door effort
has been underway.
Such an effort will destroy Catholic Radio
and eliminate one of the most effective tools for the
upbuilding of the Church and the conversion of our culture!
The Culture of Death would gain free reign over the media!
For over a year the FCC has been quietly
going through its internal steps of a rulemaking proceeding
to change broadcast rules, under the title of “Report on
Broadcast Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking”
(Localism). Euphemisms like “localism” and “choice” denote
something good. Who could be against choice? Who could be
against local broadcasting? Wouldn’t a diverse availability
of programming be good for the consumer? The reality of the
effect of the rules will be quite different.
Ironically, the Localism rule changes would
impose onerous new regulations that would result in less
local and less diverse programming on both secular and
religious stations. Such rules
would amount to a restriction, not only of free speech
rights, but of religious liberty enshrined in the First
Amendment and destroy Catholic radio!
Among the requirements advocated by the
Localism proceeding are:
24/7 staffing of stations (Localism, 29)
A required minimum time of locally produced
programming and of programming dedicated to addressing local
(Localism, 40,41, 69)
Permanent Advisory Boards composed of
“officials and other leaders from the service area” of the
station who would determine whether the station was meeting
local programming needs.
(Localism, 26, 43, 44)
While the intent of such rules may be to
increase programming that meets the needs of local
residents. It falls short on many fronts. For example:
24/7 staffing of stations simply drains
limited resources. Will a minimum wage employee babysitting
the station to meet a rule really result in local
For religiously programmed stations, will
programming produced locally on the issue of abortion be any
more informative than that produced at a central point and
disseminated through a network? Are the local pastor’s
comments on the necessity to love thy neighbor more erudite,
more compelling, more authoritative than that of his bishop
100 miles away, or of the Holy Father 5,000 miles away?
Will an Advisory Board of “local officials
and other leaders” be more responsive to the needs of
underserved communities than the members of those
communities who actually own a station? Consider the case
of a medium sized media market like Charleston, SC. There
are 38+ AM/FM stations. There are also populations of
Koreans, and Phillippinos, along with Catholics; all
minorities in the community. Are we to believe that a board
of “local officials and leaders,” none of whom may be
Korean, Phillippino or Catholic, would ensure the needs of
these underserved communities are met, more than the station
Consider the following passage from the
“The principle of localism requires broadcasters
to take into account all significant groups within
their communities when developing balanced,
community-responsive programming, including those groups
with specialized needs and interests (Localism, 69).
To take up the example of Charleston again,
consider that Catholics make up only 4% of the population.
Is 4% a “significant” enough group to have its views
represented on other stations?
A Catholic radio station would see its
programming identity diluted while at the same time not be
considered significant enough to be represented on other
Further, consider the plight of KSFB AM 1260,
our member station in San Francisco. It would certainly be
forced off the air by “local officials and leaders” on the
Advisory Board for not meeting the needs, as they see them,
of the “significant group” of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and
transgender residents of the Bay area.
Had Localism been in effect, Catholic Radio
would not have been able to support Proposition 8 in
California, and homosexual marriage would be the law of the
land there (and soon elsewhere!
This would occur across the country on one
Catholic station after another. Catholic broadcasters would
face a real threat from members of these Advisory Boards who
hold positions contrary to the Catholic Faith. With
approximately 75% of the US population not being Catholic,
and many “Catholics” holding beliefs at odds with the divine
revelation, the likelihood that these Advisory Boards would
find a local Catholic station is not meeting the needs of
the entire community is great. Such a finding would result
in the station license not being renewed.
The next several years will see one
federal, state, and local effort after another to corrupt
our culture through our laws.
Catholic Radio is absolutely
vital in our effort to reclaim our culture for Christ!
Stations in California are vital to the culture in
Pennsylvania. Likewise, stations in North Dakota are
indispensable for protecting the religious liberties of
Texans. Washington to Florida, and so on. The battle for
our culture is being fought at the local, state and national
levels. Catholic Radio is present at all three.
The Catholic Radio Association
with the FCC against the Localism proposal in 2008, but the
proposal is backed by a majority of the current five member
Commission. We need you to
sign our petition
to the Chairman of the FCC and hope that this time they will
be responsive to local community needs. You may also write
the FCC’s Acting Chairman Michael J. Copps at Federal
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW, Room 8-B115,
Washington, DC 20554
At the same time, we are gearing up for a
lengthy legal battle against this tangible threat to freedom
of speech and freedom of conscience. We face an initial
administrative challenge and then two federal court
challenges, including the Supreme Court. We need
your help to do this.
Catholic radio has been quietly but
effectively converting the culture where it exists. It now
faces an unprecedented threat to its existence.
We need your
signatures. We need your prayers. We need
With Catholic radio out of the way,
the rest of our civil liberties will be all the easier to
usurp and destroy.
Make a difference now!