Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) have pending legislation that would, among other things, change the rules under which MVPDs and broadcast television stations co-exist. Frank Wright, President and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, has written to both noting that if enacted, the legislators’ proposals could be extremely damaging to his constituents.
“Specifically,” wrote Wright, “by eliminating ‘Must-Carry’ rules for local commercial television broadcast stations to be viewed on pay-tv platforms, rules that have been in place for decades, this legislation could be fatal to many Christian TV stations and may harm the ability of millions of Americans to continue accessing the religious programming on which they rely.”
Wright said that about two out of three Americans tune in to some form of Christian media in a given month, a significantly higher percentage than actually attend a church. He said that is clear evidence of the importance many place on access to such programming on broadcast outlets.
Writght noted that eliminating the rules would be detrimental to religious broadcasters, and said there is no evidence that market conditions have shifted to the point where must-carry should be eliminated. He said that Congress’s initial finding that MVPDs have an incentive to delete, reposition or ignore local broadcast signals remains in force.
“Many American rely on local Christian broadcasters,” Wright concluded, “and my concern is that the ‘Next Generation Television Marketplace Act’ could deny them access to these stations. On behalf of NRB’s members, I urge you to leave intact the long-standing ‘Must-Carry’ rules for all broadcasters, commercial and non-commercial, as you consider the future of this legislation and other related initiatives.”