Freedom of Air Jeopardized

Radio evangelism in action.

By CHARLES A. RENTFRO, Traffic Co-ordinator, General Conference Radio Commission

One rather disconcerting revelation as we enter the new year is the sobering thought that our individual freedoms are gradually being cur­tailed. Under wartime pressure we admit the need for these temporary restrictions. Yet long before the pall of global war spread itself over the earth, insidious inroads were being made on our hard-earned freedoms, particularly freedom of speech. Good governments have always gained by the critical but honest opinions of the governed. This accounts for the strength of democratic kov­ernments, of which the world's outstanding pattern is the United States of America.

Our founding fathers wisely willed to us a grand legacy of human rights aimed to prevent the un­lawful restriction of free speech. What further provisions there might have been if the radio had then been in existence ! Yet today, in A.D. 3945, the issue of free speech has become a subject of intense controversy, fanned by the struggles in foreign lands. Our fair land is feeling the hot waves from the seething caldrons of hate and sus­picion, under which have been kindled the fires of persecution, oppression, and banishment.

The first to feel the impact of this critical out­look have been the press and radio news agencies. They are in a jittery condition today. One great news-gathering association is struggling to main­tain the freedom of news at its source. If news­men are disturbed, what may be said of the radio world? Carrying the analogy still further, what about religious news commentators and broadcast­ers? Apparently convinced that "religion pays" and that there must be such a thing as "racketeer religious programs," certain radio stations have adopted a most unusual practice. National rate cards are requiring the Too per cent payment of "A" time, regardless of the position of a religious program on a schedule, in contrast with commer­cial programs which carry a lesser rate. For the local broadcaster, in terms of financial support, this is tantamount to taxing his property out of existence. It is definitely a freezing-out process. This regulation was preceded by another onerous restriction imposed by many stations, which pre­vents the scheduling of religious programs on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

Lest we judge the radio industry too harshly, we should go behind the scenes to see for our­selves what may be prompting this rather unusual condition. Unlike many other types of business corporations, radio stations must depend on the uncertain practice of licensing which is granted by the Federal Communications Commission. The Saturday Evening Post of July 22, 1944, is au­thority for the statement made by Henry F. Prin­gle that a "bitter grievance of the industry is the issuance of only temporary licenses to many sta­tions—licenses which normally range from a few weeks to six months."

For a struggling radio station this is the sword of Damocles dangling by a flimsy thread overhead. Further complicating factors arise from labor unions which have conducted strikes among musi­cians and radio technicians, even to the banning of recordings to major producers until they have signed contracts with the union. These varied and complicated restraints, added to royalty charges now accruing to the union and all the many other restrictions of script content and security meas­ures, make such a load that the radio industry can hardly bear it. And who pays for all this? Ob­viously it is the advertiser, or the sponsor. Will the advertiser stand the added cost for long? Hardly! The additional cost of broadcasting is eventually taxed upon the consumer. The hard­working wage earner begins to clamor for higher wages—and thus the vicious circle goes on and on. Therein are the makings of inflation and the be­ginnings of government price controls, which, to be enforced, call for rigid and drastic measures.

Apparently a similar condition exists in many countries overseas. In Mexico the radio broad­casting association appealed for freedom of speech over the air not long ago. Another country in South America issued a ban on recorded broad­casts, requiring a live broadcast. Certain reli­gious programs went off the air entirely. All this is a direct attack upon religious freedom as we have known it in the Western Hemisphere.

Certain Protestant programs are having great difficulties, if not total black-outs, in other coun­tries with large Catholic following, and in Protest­ant America "religion now gets a top billing on the airways, with Catholic programs well to the fore," according to the October, 1944, issue of the Catholic Digest. This generous treatment of Catholic broadcasts by the major networks, as compared with that accorded the various Protest­ant programs which must finance their own way without recourse to public appeals for funds over the radio, is indicative of a very significant trend.

Truly the door of human rights is being opened in preparation for invasion upon those dearly held freedoms of centuries past. When such limita­tions, plus the restricted availability of time sched­ules, are forcing religious broadcasters of long standing off the air, then it is well to pause in deep reflection and justified concern over what is coming over the world.


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

By CHARLES A. RENTFRO, Traffic Co-ordinator, General Conference Radio Commission

March 1945

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

A Well-Balanced Mind

The perils of fanaticism as illustrated in World War I.

"The Epistle of Publius Lentulus"

Are any versions of the "Report of Pontius Pilate to Tiberius" that are in circulation genuine, or are they forgeries?

Church Growth and the Tithe

Sobering facts and figures for our individual study

A Changing Protestantism

The departure of Protestants from Protestantism.

How Good Is Your Memory?

Practical pointers for preachers.

Hints for Amateur Choir Directors

The monthly music column.

Advertising the Evangelistic Campaign

The illusive secret of successful advertising, which is so much sought after, is well worth studying.

Let Us Arise and Finish It

The Advent message to all the world in this generation.

Prevention of Church Fires

How to protect yourselves.

The Press Helps Evangelists

How announcements in the form of news stories have greatly helped ministers.

How Do You Advertise?

It is quite thrilling when we come to a beauti­ful Seventh-day Adventist church and find a neat sign in front.

Editorial Keynotes

An Effective Method of Illustrating Truth

Editorial Keynotes

An Effective Method of Illustrating Truth

Progressive Charting of the 2300 Days

To make the message live as it is being pre­sented is the constant problem of the Advent­ist evangelist. We need, as never before, ef­fective aids in illustrating the message.

Unite Visiting With Preaching

Preaching reaches the few who attend the services, but does not reach the multitudes. How are we to awaken them from the lethargy that infolds them? It is through per­sonal work after contact has been made in the homes.

Fallacies in the Use of Vitamins

Vegetables, fruits, whole-grain cereals, ‘and nuts, prepared in a simple, appetizing manner, make, with milk or cream, the most healthful die­tary, and one which will bountifully supply all the essentials for complete nutrition.

Helping the Helpless

A personal account.

Serving at the Bedside

To those who may never have been sick, I would like to emphasize the mental and spiritual at­titude of the sick person.

The Art of Organized Study

How the life of study can aid the ministry.

Dispensationalism and the Scofield Bible

Few of us realize how widespread the errors of modern dispensationalism have become in recent years.

Ministry of Flowers in Church Services

Flowers have their established place in the garden, home, and sickroom. Shouldn't they have a place in the church?

Editorial Postscripts

From the Ministry back page.

Regarding Other Denominations

Our monthly Bible Instructor column.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600