Religious broadcasters to protest DBS merger

A group of religious broadcasters will hold a press conference this Thursday
outside the Department of Justice on EchoStar Communications Corp.'s planned
merger with Hughes Electronics and DirecTV.

Members of the group, which is called the Coalition of Christian
Broadcasters, include John Hagee Ministries; Keith Butler Ministries; Kenneth
Copeland Ministries; Jesse Duplantis Ministries; and Creflo Dollar Ministries.
Richard Roberts, president of Oral Roberts University, also is a member.

Lou Sheldon, head of Traditional Values, the association that is organizing
the event, would not comment on what the broadcasters will say.

Earlier this year, however, members of the group took out a full-page
advertisement in the Washington Post asking President George W. Bush, Attorney
General John Ashcroft and FCC Chairman Michael Powell to deny the merger, saying
'our Constitutional rights are being threatened.'

In the ad, the religious broadcasters say they oppose the merger because
EchoStar opposes must-carry rights for broadcasters, although that reason no
longer exists because the Supreme Court last week denied EchoStar's attempts to
see the law overturned.

They also complain about EchoStar's efforts to drop ABC Family Channel, and
say that rural customers will be less served if the merger is approved.

This latest objection from religious broadcasters is separate from earlier
protests by the Word Network, headed up by the Revs. Al Sharpton and Horace
Sheffield III.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.