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Chilling News from Canada

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Last week NRB’s Executive Staff had the privilege of meeting with and encouraging two Canadian broadcasters, Dr. Charles H. McVety, television host and President of the Canada Christian College, and Pastor Peter Marshall, Founder of Peter Marshall Media Ministries, along with Dr. McVety’s wife Jennifer. Both men brought sober warnings to NRB.

Last December, the Regional Ontario Panel of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) examined Dr. McVety’s television program, Word TV, after receiving complaints that Dr. McVety’s program included "discriminatory comments on the basis of sexual orientation, [and] religion…." The CBSC Panel determined that it was acceptable for Dr. McVety to air general objections to homosexual practice, but that he violated the "Human Rights," "Religious Programming," "Negative Portrayal," and "Full, Fair, and Proper Presentation" Clauses of the Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) when he made very specific statements about homosexual behavior, among other things.

While many Americans don’t consider Canada to be very different from our own nation, the two countries are – in terms of religious broadcasting – literally worlds apart. "Dr. McVety has a clear view of how all threats to free speech inevitably become threats to the free exercise of religion, thereby constraining the Gospel of Christ in the free marketplace of ideas," said Dr. Frank Wright, NRB President & CEO, after the meeting.

What type of "threats" exist for Americans? It’s a well-known fact that Christian broadcasters in the U.S. must create a second tier of content when they broadcast programs in Canada, thanks in large part to the pervasive shroud of censorship exercised by the Canadian government. Canada’s equivalent of the FCC is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), an independent public organization tasked with regulating and supervising all Canadian broadcast and telecommunications systems. While the CRTC claims that it does not regulate the "quality and content of television and radio programs," but only "serve(s) the needs and interests of citizens, industries, interest groups and the government," many broadcasters would disagree.

The result is that Christian broadcasters in Canada are now being sanctioned for having a "hateful tone" on the airwaves. This is the same warning bell that NRB has been ringing for several years. When you combine the hate speech regulations already in force here in the United States, with the "localism" governing boards that the FCC has already suggested, you could see overt censorship in the near future.

"The lesson for U.S. broadcasters and for the rest of the world," says NRB Sr. Vice President and General Counsel Craig Parshall, "is that we cannot afford to fall asleep at the switch. We must advocate consistently, intelligently, and firmly for our rights on every platform – be it traditional over-the-air radio and television broadcasts, or the Internet, or its many new media platforms. If we don’t constantly advocate for our free speech rights, we will find ourselves severely censured, just like Canadian broadcasters."