Monday, December 06, 2004

Faith-based communicators react to nixing of UCC ad by CBS and NBC

from the United Methodist News Service,
Faith-based communicators react to nixing of church ad:

Dec. 6, 2004
NEW YORK (UMNS)
A nationwide group of faith-based communicators has added their voice to challenge the refusal of the CBS and NBC television networks to air a message from the United Church of Christ.
The statement, drafted by Communication Commission of the National Council of Churches USA, calls the networks actions 'arbitrary' and contrary to the principals of freedom of speech and equal access to media.

...“This is not about gays and lesbians; this is about the constitutional rights of a responsible organization to exercise the freedom to speak on a medium licensed to serve the public interest,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive with United Methodist Communications, the denomination’s communication agency.

“This decision calls attention to the reality that, for self-serving reasons, corporations in control of major media are in a position to filter and even block the legitimate speech by responsible voices,” Hollon said.

...“The controversial issue here is not the content of the ad, but the arbitrary standards of the network gatekeepers. Church doors are open to all who would come; but broadcast channels are increasingly closed to all but the wealthy and well-connected.

“It is important to note that the broadcast networks are not being asked to give free time to the United Church of Christ to express its message -- the church is ready to pay dearly for that privilege, even though the networks do not pay for their highly profitable use of the broadcast spectrum.

“The Federal Communications Commission, in giving free access to the public’s airwaves to commercial corporations--with virtually no strings attached--has handed them powerful control over America’s media “public square.” The for-profit keepers of that square are all too willing to promulgate messages laced with sexual innuendo, greed, violence, and the politics of personal destruction, but a message of openness and welcome that merely says ‘church doors are open to all’ is being silenced as too controversial!

“Advocacy advertising abounds on TV: agribusinesses, drug manufacturers, gambling casinos, oil companies, even some government agencies regularly expose viewers to messages advocating their products and programs, in the interest of shaping public attitudes and building support for their points of view.

“Are only the ideas and attitudes of faith groups now off limits? Constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and freedom of speech, not to mention common fairness, beg for leadership by the FCC to assure that America's faith community has full and equal access to the nation's airwaves, to deliver positive messages that seek to build and enrich the quality of life.”



This statement was signed by many communicators from several denominations who are part of the NCC - UMC, UCC, PCUSA, ELCA, Episcopal, etc.
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