Canada: EFC Advocates Fairness for Religious Broadcasters

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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 Canada”, recognizes a similar phenomenon. This report was commissioned by the CRTC.

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,” Hutchinson noted.

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.

Hutchinson added, ”The broadcast requirements and standard of ethics should be consistent for all broadcasters. Single faith religious broadcasters have been making a positive contribution to Canadians for nearly two decades – providing Canadian artists exposure that would otherwise not be available to them and providing Canadians with access to religious broadcasting from a Canadian, rather than American, perspective. The Broadcasting Act requires balance within the system and that balance for religious broadcasters is provided through the wide variety of multi-cultural, multi-faith and other specialty stations now available on television and radio, and through the religious broadcasts that take place on general broadcast stations. It’s time for the CRTC to revise the requirements for single faith religious broadcasters in order to provide fair and non-discriminatory treatment to all Canadian broadcasters.”

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For more information of an interview contact:

Gail Reid

Director, Communications

905 479 5885 x227

Cell: 647 227 3464

[email protected]

THE EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP OF CANADATogether for influence, impact and identity

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the national association of evangelical Christians, gathered together for influence, impact and identity in ministry and public witness. Since 1964 the EFC has provided a national forum for Evangelicals and a constructive voice for biblical principles in life and society.

In addition to 40 evangelical denominations, the EFC affiliates include ministry organizations, educational institutions and individual congregations, who uphold a common statement of faith. It is an active participant in the World Evangelical Alliance.

View our current initiatives and partnerships. Order a copy of Faith Today, published by the EFC to connect, equip and inform evangelical Christians in Canada. Visit the EFC gathering of the Canadian Christian community online: www.christianity.ca.