Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pat Robertson Will Still Be On Your TV Even If They Change the Cable Laws

From National Journal:

It may be more difficult to find televangelist Pat Robertson on your TV dial under a new measure that has been introduced in the House.

Under [the proposed] bill, if DISH Network decides another channel can bring in more money than local Christian network affiliates, it's under no obligation to keep bringing viewers their daily dose of Pat Robertson.

Uh…no, National Journal.  Try again.

There's a bill afoot in Congress to eliminate the "must-carry" law that requires cable systems to provide channel space for all the licensed local broadcast stations in your area.  Because who cares about maintaining diversity or a sense of community when cable systems can make more money with yet another channel filled with reality-TV series about hillbilly duck hunters and tow-truck operators?  Anyway, the stations the "must-carry" law was designed to protect aren't your major network affiliates but those small UHF stations that might carry public broadcasting—or religious programming.  So the association of National Religious Broadcasters is worried that if this bill passes, it will cut millions off from their local Christian TV stations and its programming.  Which is true, if the bill passes, although few think it will.

But the respected Washington publication National Journal thinks this will apply to Pat Robertson and his 700 Club show, probably because he's the only televangelist they know. EXCEPT: The 700 Club is broadcast primarily on the cable channel ABC Family.  When Robertson sold the Family Channel to Fox in 1997 (to become what was briefly the Fox Family Channel), it included a stipulation that the channel's owner must continue to run The 700 Club as long as Robertson's ministry produced the show.  Many local religious TV stations rebroadcast The 700 Club on their own channels, but that is chiefly to reach viewers who don't have cable in the first place.

Must-carry is not what's keeping Pat Robertson on the air.  It's ABC Family that's obligated to bring viewers their daily dose of Pat.

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