Friday, March 19, 2004

Christian radio, NPR battle for signals: "NPR and religious broadcasters, some of whom believe the public radio promotes a liberal agenda, are competitors for the relatively small number of noncommercial FM frequencies between 88.1 and 91.9 megahertz. College radio stations, the other sizable group of not-for-profit broadcasters, typically lack funds to fight aggressively for licenses.

"'As the media markets have grown, the competition for those frequencies has increased and those licenses represented by space on the broadcast dial are becoming more and more valuable,' said the Rev. Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, a 1,700-member association in Manassas, Va.

"NPR spokeswoman Jenny Lawhorn said the competition has prompted initiatives by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its supporters to help public broadcasters acquire frequencies and expand their offerings. She denied the liberal-bias charge.

"Religious broadcasters have led in station numbers since a 1990s growth spurt, with more than 1,800 AM and FM outlets compared with 772 mostly FM National Public Radio stations, according to Arbitron and NPR.

"But NPR has become a more aggressive bidder for licenses since 2001, when the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting helped establish an organization to broker and finance station acquisitions."

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