For immediate release from The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) participated on September 21, 2007 as an intervenor before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in connection with CRTC hearings on the “Diversity of Voices” in broadcasting.
“Single faith religious broadcasters have been subjected to unfair and unnecessary restrictions on their ability to operate because of concerns arising out of a problem from the 1930s. Religious stations could not get a broadcast license until about twenty years ago and the conditions imposed since that time are a reflection of a problem that took place on radio three quarters of a century ago – even before we had television,” said Don Hutchinson, general legal counsel for the EFC.
The EFC advocated for fair and balanced access to, and use of, the airwaves. In its presentation, the EFC noted that only religious broadcasters are restricted by the requirement to provide “balancing” air time to other faith groups when licensed as single-faith stations. This policy exceeds the stipulated requirements of the Broadcasting Act, resulting in a restriction on freedom of expression.
Additionally, the policy is financially harmful to religious broadcasters who are required to meet extra reporting requirements and, frequently, cover the costs of production and broadcast for the other faith groups. This occurs because alternative faith groups often lack production facilities and advertisers have demonstrated an unwillingness to finance programs that are not directed at their target audience. Alternative faith group advertisers have also demonstrated an unwillingness to finance programs that are broadcast by a station that is owned by a different faith group.
The recent report filed on August 31, 2007, by Laurence Dunbar and Christian Leblanc, “Review of the Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting Services in
The EFC endorses recommendation 11(h)-1 of the Dunbar-Leblanc Report that the CRTC “review its 1993 Religious Broadcasting Policy in order to accommodate more single faith stations, on both radio and television.”
“This is consistent with the position that the EFC has presented to the CRTC and Parliament for over twenty years,”
The CRTC also requires a different standard of ethics from religious broadcasters than it does of other licensees. The EFC asserts that this special standard is unnecessary.
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