Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
The elderly or homebound who enjoy watching a local Catholic Mass on PBS in cities such as Washington, D.C., New Orleans or Denver may soon have to look elsewhere.
The U.S. Public Broadcasting Service, which consists of 354 member TV stations, is banning all new religious programming.
According to Zenit, the decision was made at last week’s board meeting at PBS’ East Coast headquarters in Arlington, Va. The board decided to enforce a ban on its member stations, with the threat of having their network affiliation revoked in case of noncompliance.
The stations receive much of their content from independent producers and sources outside the broadcasting service, including Catholic dioceses that have relied on the stations to broadcast Sunday Mass for the homebound.
Traditionally, PBS has accepted programming of a “noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian” nature because it’s a nonprofit that receives federal funding. Until now, that definition wasn’t understood to exclude religious programming. After reviewing its policies, the board decided to uphold the ban, but will allow current shows to continue.