WASHINGTON, July 11, (UPI) -- For months, Republicans in Congress havesought to block a Federal Communications Commission program to licensehundreds of new low-power radio stations.But now the first batch of applications for the stations has come in, and itturns out that about half are from religious organizations, mostly the sortsof fundamentalist churches active in conservative Republican politics, TheNew York Times reported July 11. From Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego to In His Image OutreachMinistries in East Greenwich, R.I., hundreds of evangelical churches areasking for space on the airwaves to spread the Gospel, the Times writes.They will not get the chance, however, if the Republican Congressionalleadership -- lined up on the side of big broadcasting companies and theirlobbying group -- gets its way. And that has left many of the applicants andtheir supporters frustrated, while offering a fresh reminder of thedivisions that persist in the Republican Party, the Times reported."It looks like money's talking, maybe at the expense of what would belogical long term -- the Republicans supporting their supporters," said RichCizik, director of the Washington office of the National Association ofEvangelicals, which has 4,300 churches as members.Congressional Republicans say their position is based on the interferencethat broadcasters insist the new stations would cause for the signals ofexisting stations. Politics, they add, will not change that.The House has already passed a bill that would sharply reduce the number oflow-power stations, and the Senate is considering similar measures; theWhite House opposes those efforts, The Times reported.
Although Congressional staffers, F.C.C. officials and lobbyists said theyexpected churches to apply for licenses, the evangelical makeup of theapplicant pool has caught most of them by surprise, they said.