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Every denomination needs one of these...

UCC leaders ticked off with FCC

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Using words like "outrage" and "indignant" to describe their feelings, UCC leaders fumed yesterday after the FCC rejected their challenge to renew the licenses of two Florida television station. The United Church of Christ filed the license renewal challenges in response to NBC and CBS refusing to air one of two advertisements in 2004.

It was also an opportunity for UCC leaders to perpetuate the myth that the ad was rejected because of the its "
all-inclusive religious message". From the UC News article:
"We are indignant at the FCC's treatment of our complaint," said Cheryl A. Leanza, an attorney and managing director of OC, Inc. "Rather than address the heart of our concern, the FCC has played games with the law. We have a legitimate concern, but we can obtain no redress."

Leanza said she is appalled that "a few network executives can decide that it is 'too controversial' for a church to publicly welcome every member of society."

"Communities of faith are playing a more significant role than ever before in civic debate, and the current media system's bias prevents the full range of religious thought from being presented to the public," Leanza said.
Leanza is betting that people will drink the punch and not actually read why the 'Bouncer' ad was rejected. From NBC's response to the FCC:
The Network concluded that the "Night Club" ad inappropriately suggested that churches other than the UCC are not open to people of diverse races and backgrounds and therefore violated the Network's policy against addressing issues of public controversy through paid commercial advertisements.

Accordingly, the Network refused to air the ad.
Contrary to Leanza's phony claim, NBC did accept a second UCC television ad that included an
"all-inclusive religious message".

Of course, no spin coming out of the Office of Communication would be complete without Bob Chase's pontification (didn't he resign????):
"This decision is indicative of why people are so fed up with media consolidation," said the Rev. Robert Chase, the UCC's communication director. "We are caught in a conundrum. Where do we go to challenge the right of a church to have its message broadcast over the public airwaves, even when it is willing to pay for that broadcast?"
Ironically, the UCC tried to benefit from media consolidation and network ownership when it tried to buy the ads directly from the network instead of through each station.

That said, Chase has a point. The UCC (and all entities) should have some recourse to file a complaint with the FCC when networks make decisions about advertising and programming.
There is precedence for the FCC holding network owned affiliates accountable for network programming decisions. When the FCC fined CBS for Janet Jackson's Super Bowl flash, it actually fined the CBS owned affiliates, not the network itself.

However, it's entirely possible that the license renewal process was not the appropriate avenue for the UCC to seek review. According to the FCC ruling, "under the plain terms of section 309(k), the Commission cannot deny a license renewal application based on violations that occurred at other stations licensed to the same licensee". As in the CBS Super Bowl example, the fines were not the result of license challenges, they were the result of complaints being filed directly to the FCC. That may have been the appropriate and most direct way of getting the FCC to review the UCC's concerns.

I hope there is some way for the FCC to review the claims and to reject them on their lack of merit. The ad's were not rejected for their welcoming message, they were rejected because they disparaged other churches.
posted by UCCtruths, Thursday, August 09, 2007


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:33 PM  
I wish somone within the UCC would file an amicus curae brief on behalf of the UCCers who oppose the OC Inc.'s appeal. It would certainly benefit the court to have the full, objective story of what has gone on in the UCC w.r.t the progressive branding effort.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 1:37 AM  
Very thorough review of the facts. How anyone could repeat the myth about the television ads after reading this is beyond me.

By the way James - I would love to join the message board, but it looks like you have to sign up for (yet) another email acct. to do it. Is this true? I have enough trouble keeping track of the email I do use and I really don't want another
commented by Anonymous David Berndsen, 9:21 AM  
Thought of you when I saw this story. Looks like the UCC isn't the only one rejected by the networks.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 4:46 PM  

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