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NRB Pushes for Noncom Fundraising Rule Change

Parshall also deplores attitudes about Christian journalism

Religious broadcasters are hoping for a change in rules that would help noncommercial stations raise money for charities.

Craig Parshall, the senior VP and general counsel of the National Religious Broadcasters, will speak Friday to the “Future of Media” panel held by the Federal Communications Commission. Prepared text of his remarks offers insights into the NRB’s position on this and several other issues.

“For all practical purposes, absent a national or global catastrophe, noncoms are prohibited from raising funds for other organizations,” he’ll tell the hearing. “NRB supports a rule change, that is currently on circulation in the FCC, whereby every noncom could spend up to 1% of its annual on-air time raising funds for third-party non-profit groups recognized under IRS code section 501(c)(3).”

Parshall and NRB also want the FCC to clarify and relax rules that “permit non-commercial broadcasters to give very short sponsorship mentions on the air as long as they ‘identify’ the sponsor but do not ‘promote’ the sponsor.”

“The line-drawing here is confusing and inconsistent,” Parshall argues.

“Non-commercial broadcasters are not asking for the federal government to subsidize their activities. But we are asking the government to fertilize the media landscape to facilitate growth. We think that these two rule changes would go a long way toward helping noncommercial broadcasters to do an even better job to meet the news and information needs of the American public.”

Also, according to a summary in the NRB newsletter, Parshall will tell the FCC that Christian media groups have a targeted, lasting impact on local needs such as poverty, homelessness and illiteracy; and yet “mainstream” rhetoric often characterizes conservative Christianity as dangerous or “right-wing.” Parshall will cite as an example a recent speech by former President Clinton during the commemoration of the Oklahoma City bombing, linking that bombing with “right-wing talk radio” and “right-wing” media.

Parshall believes that another barrier to a healthy media environment is the “prevalent” attitude that a Christian journalist cannot be objective, while assuming that publicly funded media like National Public Radio or a left-leaning magazine are objective.

His full remarks are here (PDF).