GNCR - Court appeal lost (12 June 2006) PDF Print E-mail

 

The Daily News

11 May 2006

Dear Editor

It’s ominous that Good News Community Radio has lost its court appeal and is being ordered to stop broadcasting. 
It is as unacceptable for any government agency to close down a Christian Radio station, as it would be for any government to close down a Christian church. 
There are more than enough airwaves and frequencies available. Radio is as much a part of daily life and technology as are telephones, motorcars, personal computers and E-mail. It is incomprehensible that any government department can think that it has the right, or authority, to limit freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and freedom of association on the airwaves. 
We are reminded of how in Eastern Europe under the Communists typewriters, and even carbon paper, were restricted items requiring to be registered by the state! In fact, in Rev. Bill Bathman’sGoing Through book, he reports on how an evangelistic outreach by mail in Yugoslavia was unsuccessful, because the envelopes had been typed. Their team had not realised at that time that typewriters were such a rare and restricted item in this Communist country. When they were arrested, every envelope was lying on the table of the security police, because having the addresses typed identified the evangelistic mail! At the time they marveled at the paranoia of a dictatorship that felt that even carbon paper and typewriters could be a threat to their control. 
Today we are astounded that ICASA should feel the need to close down a successful, award winning, Christian community radio station, with approximately 100,000 listeners, who have been broadcasting for over 10 years. 
We cannot help but remember that complete government control of radio stations in Rwanda preceded the genocide there. We are also well aware that independent newspapers and community radio stations in Zimbabwe have all been closed down. 
It would appear that ICASA has different goal posts and different sets of criteria for Muslim and secular radio stations in South Africa . A double standard is being applied to Christian community radio stations, and this targeting of GNCR (along with the severe limitations on Radio Pulpit – the only national Christian radio station being limited to two hours – 4 AM to 6 AM!) provides an ominous precedent. 
It is absolutely essential that religious freedom be respected in all areas of life, including on the airwaves. No government has the right to close down Christian churches, or Christian radio stations. These are essential expressions of freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is a non-negotiable foundation for freedom. 

In His service 

Dr. Peter Hammond 
Director, Christian Action Network

 
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