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