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Re: Early religious broadcasting
On Wednesday, April 30, 2003, at 04:10 PM, Donna Halper wrote:
> At 01:39 PM 4/30/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>> I am currently putting together a term paper on religious
>> broadcasting and its history. An excerpt from a short bio on Percy
>> Crawford said that the number of hours religious broadcasters were
>> permitted to be on the air. I can't find any independent source to
>> verify this (despite about an hour of Googling and Yahooing).
> The Department of Commerce had a very hands-off policy on religious
> broadcasters, but eventually the Federal Radio Commission put in a set
> percentage of time you had to offer educational programming, religious
> broadcasting, public service, news, etc. This seems to have been
> enforced very sporadically. The creation of the FCC in 1934 brought
> in more consistent standards, but I don't recall reading anything
> about putting extreme limits on religious broadcasters. Check the new
> version of "Stay Tuned" by Chris Sterling and J. Mike Kittross to see
> what they say about it...
Those percentages for types of programming stuck around through the
70's and maybe beyond. But the FCC didn't set the quotas at that time.
The stations did in their license applications. Many AM stations that
converted to top 40 struggled with their programming commitments which
had been made when they were full service. You'd have to broadcast 9%
news, 4% public service, whatever you committed to, whether your
audience really wanted all that news or not. One of my first stations,
a top 40, ran no news after morning drive but 15 minutes of news every
hour on the overnight to burn off their heavy news commitment.
The FCC enforced the percentages that the stations had volunteered. If
you didn't meet your commitment you might find an eager cross-filer
going after your license with even loftier goals of public service.
Programmers would count up the exact minutes as logged, and send a
sample week to the FCC at licenser renewal time. Religion was one of
the areas that you committed to by percentage (along with agriculture
and even a category called "other,") so stations felt the pressure to
run a self-imposed quota of programming to protect their license.