WASHINGTON (EWTN News)—The Federal Communications Commission has approved a proposal to require broadcasters to submit documents about their programming to an online file, available to the public. The proposal was supported by the U.S. Catholic bishops.
In a statement before the vote, Bishop Gabino Zavala, chair of the bishops’ Communications Committee, called the move “long overdue.”
“An online disclosure will supply the public and the commission with a useable database of information about actual programs aired by broadcasters,” he said.
The Church backed the disclosure because several Catholic diocese have had difficulties obtaining airtime on local TV stations. For this reason, Bishop Zavala called for religious programming to be among the information made public under the new proposal.
On Oct. 27, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt the proposal requiring broadcasters to publicly report online about programs they have aired.
A press release from the commission said that the action “is consistent with the government-wide effort to increase transparency.”
The commission is seeking “comment on any other revisions or additions to its rules that would make the information about broadcast service more accessible to the public.” It said its goal is “improving the dialogue between broadcast stations and the communities they serve.”
Bishop Zavala explained the need to have religious programming included as one of the categories reported under the new proposal.
He said that the bishops’ conference has repeatedly “informed the commission of the increasing difficulty and financial burden it and Catholic dioceses face in obtaining airtime on local broadcast stations for full-length programs and even public-service announcements.”
Although the conference has worked to gather and organize information on the difficulties Catholic entities have experienced, the commission has frequently “dismissed this information as ‘merely anecdotal,’” Bishop Zavala said.
“Requiring broadcasters to disclose the actual programs they air will provide much needed facts for the public to participate in the license-renewal process and in future rulemakings.”
Bishop Zavala recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the 40th World Communications Day, which warned of the “distortion that occurs when the media industry becomes self-serving or solely profit-driven, losing the sense of accountability to the common good.
“Online disclosure requirements move broadcasters closer to that sense of accountability.”