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.