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Religious Programming Should Be Part Of Public Accountability By Broadcasters, USCCB Chair States

October 27, 2011

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission should require broadcasters to report programming to the public, and that report should include religious programming and be available on the Internet, according to the chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Communications Committee.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on proposals this Thursday.

“The bishops’ conference looks forward to a vote this Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission on proposals requiring broadcasters to report online to the public programs they have aired in a consistent and orderly format,” said Bishop Gabino Zavala, chair of the Communications Committee of the USCCB. “This is a long overdue. An online disclosure will supply the public and the Commission with a useable database of information about actual programs aired by broadcasters, and with the necessary facts for meaningful public participation in license renewals and Commission proceedings.”

Bishop Zavala stressed that religious programming needs to be one of the reporting categories. “In proceeding after proceeding, USCCB has informed the Commission of the increasing difficulty and financial burden it and Catholic dioceses face in obtaining airtime on local broadcast stations for full length programs and even public service announcements. USCCB has expended resources to gather and organize that information, but the Commission frequently has dismissed this information as ‘merely anecdotal,’” he explained. Requiring broadcasters to disclose the actual programs they air will provide much needed facts for the public to participate in the license renewal process and in future rulemakings. In his message for the 40th World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI warned against the “distortion that occurs when the media industry becomes self-serving or solely profit driven, losing the sense of accountability to the common good.” Online disclosure requirements move broadcasters closer to that sense of accountability.


Keywords: bishops, Catholic, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Federal Communications Commission, television, religious programming

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