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United Methodist Communications' leader testifies before FCC

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The Rev. Larry Hollon
Dec. 12, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - At a Dec. 11 public hearing regarding the Federal Communication Commission's media ownership rules, the head of The United Methodist Church's communications agency told FCC commissioners that relaxing the rules on ownership of media has resulted in a form of censorship.

"I know you do not advocate censorship, but one of the consequences of relaxing the rules on ownership of media has been a form of censorship: a limiting of voices in the public dialogue that is so important to our representative democracy," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications.

"As rules on public service and ownership of media have been relaxed and as ownership consolidates into fewer and fewer hands, it is becoming more difficult, and more expensive, to project our voice into the public conversation," Hollon testified.

He cited the refusal of religious advertising by some broadcast networks as an example of how corporate policies can restrict free speech.

In 2003, Reuters refused to carry United Methodist advertising - with the theme "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." - on a Times Square electronic billboard. That decision was later reversed when the denomination protested on the grounds that the church should have the same access to commercial space as any other organization.

During a combination of panel presentations and public comment periods, a diverse group of performers, music industry executives, independent radio station owners, college students, advocates and others gathered to present their viewpoints to commission members.

The Nashville hearing was one of six that will be held nationwide seeking public input on rules governing media consolidation. Among the issues being considered are newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules, and local radio and TV ownership limits.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

 

 

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