Programming

Religious Nets in On Election Action

As issues and coverage heat up for 2012, faith-based channels join the fray 7/11/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

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As the 2012 election cycle gets set to
kick into high gear, the usual suspects
won’t be the only ones in on the coverage.
Recognizing the importance of the races,
religious and faith-based networks will channel
their inner CNN through next November.

The National Religious Broadcasters—an international
association of Christian radio and TV
stations—plans to have every angle of the election
covered, including both party conventions
and election night. Craig Parshall, NRB senior
VP/general counsel, says commercial stations
“expect a jump in revenue” during the cycle.

NRB, which features both commercial and
non-commercial (non-profit) stations, faces
challenges with the latter, since they cannot by
law endorse political candidates. “The [noncommercial
stations] are still going to be talking
about where candidates come down on issues,”
says Parshall. Issues such as abortion and samesex
marriage are two hot buttons for NRB station
viewers. While those outlets cannot say “vote for
Mr. X rather than Mrs. Y,” Parshall notes they
will point to differences in candidates’ stances on
those topics. “Some of our networks do a fairly
comprehensive job of covering local races,” Parshall
adds, noting that those can be just as important
as the national elections.

One NRB nonprofit, the Christian Broadcasting
Network, runs one-on-one interviews conducted
with candidates by David Brody, CBN
chief political correspondent, without any particular
political slant. CBN CEO Gordon Robertson
says that the purpose of The Brody File
interviews is to give viewers an unbiased profile
of each candidate, focusing on where they stand
on issues that are important to CBN viewers.
“We want to [interview] pretty much any of the
‘name’ candidates,” Robertson says.

Robertson also points out that the closeness of
the individual races—particularly the GOP presidential
nomination—factors into how many resources
CBN puts into covering it, but the network
does plan to report on both conventions.

Jewish network Shalom TV kicked off its election
coverage last month with the AIPAC National
Policy Conference in Washington. “The
Jewish community is extremely active in American
politics,” says network COO Bradford Hammer.
“Courting Jewish support remains a strong
priority for national candidates.”

Hammer adds that Shalom TV will also carry
political speeches from the Jewish Federations
of North America’s General Assembly and the
Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ Plenum, as
well as hopefully having candidates and officials
in their studio. Shalom TV also
details Israeli views of U.S. voter
choices on
Israel Speaks
programs,
involving
Middle East
pundits
and policymakers.

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