Imagine an election where radio stations were forced to run small-c conservative and Christian radio ads against their will. The idea has been floated.
And at least a semi-retired (and right-leaning) Alberta radio station owner has mused publicly that that would be a good idea. And the CD in which he told an audience at his church that this was a great idea has now been pulled from the site where it had been sold. But not before I got a copy.
Allan Hunsperger, the former owner of the Shine Christian radio stations in Edmonton and Calgary, was pivotal in getting CRTC regulations changed to allow Canadian music radio stations in Canada. He proffered the opinion that I will be quoting below in 2009, but I think it important to recall what he said, as he may still have influence to press his idea, should he retain it, amongst Alberta Tories, or among the "old-boys network" of radio station managers.
As I and Bene D have noted before, there is a temptation amongst Christians to want to use coercion to just make the media "straighten up and fly right."
Mr. Hunsperger, I fear, toyed with a similar mindset.
Hunsperger is now pastoring a church in Tofield Alberta. Faytene Grasseschi (who was Faytene Kryskow at the time this was recorded) admires Hunsperger, and has mentioned how grateful she was that the first The CRY that she was in charge of, was broadcast on the radio over Hunsperger's Shine radio (at least in Edmonton).
Sometime in 2009, as Faytene was in a whirl of media mentions, she went to Hunsperger's church where she spoke at discipleship training school. Her talk was recorded as "Media Advance" and the resulting talk was available at her online store. It's not now.
Towards the end of the first CD of the message, Faytene is talking about the second debate on legalizing gay marriage in the House of Commons and the difficulty of getting the small-c conservative message out.
Hunsperger, who was sympathetic to the "no legal gay marriage" side in some way, asks for the mike to say a few words. Faytene gives it to him.
Hunsperger then says (emphasis mine):
"The secular media would not play commercials alerting Canadians of the vote coming up in the Parliament House. 92 per cent of media outlets would not allow that message across. So, first point. The issue is 'fair and balanced' in the matter of public issues, public concern. Definition of marriage is a public concern.. Radio stations should have been forced to carry those ads. They weren't, okay.So, and the only ones that really ran that, really were some Christian outlets. But just so you know, they are under the disguise of balance, but the media is not giving the balance and there's nobody forcing that issue. The only ones that would force that issue would be someone loud or squawking to force them to do it--but by the time you got to that issue, you would be punishing them after the fact.
I hope that he means public censure, but the public can't "force" ads to be run. The private governing bodies over radio wouldn't have the power, if they were even inclined to do it, to force ads onto radio.
We're talking government rules and regulation then. it's the only way with teeth.
I hope, for his own sake, that Allan Hunsperger has since come to his senses, and asked for the CD to be withdrawn. If he has not, and especially if he has been whispering in some high-placed ears, some comments from me.
I find the idea of forcing ads onto radio by fiat, to be offensive. Freedom of speech not only implies the ability to say what you like, it implies the ability to not say what you don't care to.
I think of progressive co-op style radio stations, which are gay-positive their news coverage--which would have accept these ads.
I think of radio stations in cities and towns with progressive population or, in this case, large gay populations. Should we force them to suffer losses in ad revenue when angry listeners hear the conservative ads?
Hunsperger ignores the power of new media. Is radio the only way to get your message out?
Of course, Hunsperger et al could always stage something so that their views would demand to be covered as "news". But that would take too much time and effort, I suppose.
I have a final question that I suspect I may already know the answer to.
Hunsperger broadcast The Cry Edmonton on his radio station(s). It was a smart move as his audience would enjoy and be entertained by it.
He was acting in the best interest of his audience, using his decision making skills and knowledge of his audience to broadcast wisely.
This then, would be my question: "In the interests of fairness and balance, and keeping in mind the fact that whether Christianity is good for society is a public question did you, in the name of fairness and balance, offer free air time on your radio station to atheists?"
I would be stunned if he had. I anticipate that his "No" would have been followed by something like "I believe it would offend my audience, and I feel there are many radio stations where they could hear that atheism is swell.I used my discretion."
The same discretion that would persuade a middle-of-the-road station manager to not run "stop gay marriage" ads?
I would add this caution for "so-cons". Don't count on the "force" being wielded to fix "fairness" on radio being wielded by people who think as you do.