National    RELIGIOUS PROGRAMS BELONG ON FREE-TO-AIR TV: CHURCHES
The Australian Churches Media Association yesterday challenged the Broadcasting Enquiry Hearings of the Productivity Commission not to marginalise religious TV and radio programs produced by mainstream churches.
    Speaking at a public hearing in Melbourne, the organisation's vice-chair Peter Thomas said that because free-to-air commercial TV will remain the major source of television for Australian viewers for now, it follows that religious programs should be present on these stations.
    Responding to moves to shift religious content to Community and Pay TV, he said that religious programs on these services are "sectional and [do] not represent mainstream churches."
    He said this pattern is paralleled in radio, where there are many Christian radio stations around the country but none directly supported by mainstream churches.
    Programming from beyond the mainstream churches was given a major boost at Easter with the launch of the Australian Christian Channel on Optus Vision Pay TV.
   
    ACMA 1:35pm 8/6/99
 
         


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