Memorandum submitted by Centre for Justice
The Committee did invite written submissions
by Friday 11 January. We apologise for having missed this deadline
due to an overseas visit, and do hope that the Committee will
still be able to take note of the most important issues raised
in the enclosed short introductory note.
Naturally, we would be only too happy to provide
any further oral or written evidence that the Committee would
find helpful and do hope that the continuing discrimination against
religious organisations in the award of many broadcasting licences
is a matter to which Members may wish to turn their attention.
SUBMISSION CONCERNING THE OFCOM BILL AND
THE NEW BROADCASTING BILL
The Centre Represents the UK Christian media
industry including: music producers, radio and TV broadcasters,
production companies and internet service providersemploying
between them about 1,000 people with a £20-30 million annual
The Industry Requests an opportunity for Christian
and other religious broadcasters to apply for any UK broadcasting
licence just like their secular competitorsto meet unfulfilled
demand for Christian broadcasting nationwide from Shetland to
the Channel Islandsand to adhere to existing religious
programme content rules and safeguards. (Radio and TV exposure
will enable the Christian music industry to develop and prosper
at home and in European and International export markets).
After the OFCOM Bill sets up the Office of Communications,
the new Broadcasting Bill will regulate hundreds of digital radio
and TV services. We are asking Parliament to remove the ban against
religious persons and bodies applying for licences for national
and regional analogue and digital terrestrial TV services, and
1. National analogue radio services.
2. National digital radio services.
3. Local digital radio services.
4. National digital sound programme services.
5. Local digital sound programme services.
6. National digital additional radio services.
7. Local digital additional radio services.
[UK Radio Authority Religious Ownership Guidelines
1997, Annex II]
Under the 1990 and 1996 Broadcasting Acts, all
these disqualifications apply to:
(a) A body whose objects are wholly or mainly
of a religious nature.
(b) A body which is controlled by a body
falling within paragraph (a) or by two or more such bodies taken
(c) A body which controls a body falling
within paragraph (a).
(d) A body corporate which is an associate
of a body corporate falling within paragraph (a), (b) or (c).
(e) A body corporate in which a body falling
within any of paragraphs (a) to (d) is a participant with more
than a 5 per cent interest.
(f) An individual who is an officer of a
body falling within paragraph (a).
(g) A body which is controlled by an individual
falling within paragraph (f) or by two or more such individuals
[UK Broadcasting Act 1990 Schedule 2 Part II
The Centre contends that the UK is obliged under
Competition Law and International and European Human Rights Conventions
not to exclude persons from applying for broadcasting industry
licences on grounds of race, sex or religion.
Along with Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, the
UK bans national Christian broadcasting. Since the ban was introduced
in 1990, we have petitioned the Government for Christian broadcasting
freedom on behalf of 300,000 people.
In 1999, Mark Fisher's Early Day Motion requested
Government to reconsider legal exclusion of Christian and other
religious bodies from owning national radio licences to provide
a Christian music alternative, and was signed by 202 MPs.
Then, the Commons voted by a 129 majority for
Edward Leigh's Ten Minute Rule Bill to remove national religious
restrictionswhich ran out of Parliamentary time.
Globally, Contemporary Christian Music sales
are growing faster than other types of music due to radio station
exposure, except in the UK where Christian/religious bodies are
banned from national and local digital radio licence applications.
This seriously handicaps the development of our Christian music
and media Industry.
In 2000, at our request, a Motion was signed
by 53 Members of the Council of Europe calling on the UK Government
not to exclude religious organisations from the digital radio
broadcasting system of the future. So far, this has been ignored.
By 2001, the Government had received 16,000
letters in support of lifting the ban. When DCMS requested views
in "New Future for Communications White Paper", a further
6,000 responses asked for freedom for Christian broadcasting.
The Centre is a not-for-profit company with
no shareholders and no dividends. Staff and directors are unsalaried
and funds are applied for the purposes of the Centre.
Scientist; Computer industry company director;
satellite TV Industry pioneer; Managing United Christian Broadcasters
for 14 years; campaigner for Christian broadcasting freedom since
Business woman; Salvation Army Captain pastoring
churches nine years; Manager in charge of Marketing and fundraising
for United Christian Broadcasters seven years; published and edited
daily devotional five years for approximately half million readers.
With combined experience of 20 years management
within the Christian broadcast industry involving political and
legal representation for various Christian media organisationsthe
Centre's directors have relationships with politicians from various
political parties, mainstream churches and many other national
14 January 2002