Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Centre for Justice and Liberty

  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.


  The Centre Represents the UK Christian media industry including: music producers, radio and TV broadcasters, production companies and internet service providers—employing between them about 1,000 people with a £20-30 million annual turnover.

  The Industry Requests an opportunity for Christian and other religious broadcasters to apply for any UK broadcasting licence just like their secular competitors—to meet unfulfilled demand for Christian broadcasting nationwide from Shetland to the Channel Islands—and 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 licences for:

    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 together.

    (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 taken together.

  [UK Broadcasting Act 1990 Schedule 2 Part II 2(1)]


  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 restrictions—which 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.


Gareth Littler

  Scientist; Computer industry company director; satellite TV Industry pioneer; Managing United Christian Broadcasters for 14 years; campaigner for Christian broadcasting freedom since 1987.

Patricia Hargreaves

  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 organisations—the Centre's directors have relationships with politicians from various political parties, mainstream churches and many other national organisations.

14 January 2002

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