New Life Radio Battles for License Renewal

Post a Comment » Written on April 4th, 2006     
Filed under: News
MAGADAN, RUSSIA (April 4, 2006) – Christian Radio for Russia (CRFR) plans to appeal a government decision to deny its re-licensing request for New Life Radio (NLR) in Magadan. Christian Radio is the umbrella corporation under which New Life operates.

The Russian government denied the renewal application, which could force the station to permanently close should an appeal be unsuccesful, says Dan Johnson, CRFR president, Johnson says a lawsuit is planned should the appeal fail.

The station has been off the air since December while awaiting a renewal license, Johnson says. Officials also are waiting for re-licensing of the satellite broadcast of New Life Radio in Moscow, which is organized under a different corporation. That broadcast continues to be transmitted by satellite and carried by various FM, cable, and other affiliates that use the Moscow programming while awaiting its re-licensing.

Although CRFR now operates independently, the Evangelical Covenant Church provided startup assistance and several Covenant churches across the country continue to support the radio ministry.

The government routinely renews the licenses of secular stations, but religious stations recently have met strong resistance, Johnson says, explaining that the government has grown increasingly hostile to mission activity. Recently, Russian Minister of Justice Yury Chaika announced that he will seek legislation curbing such activity.

“Recently, we have been disturbed by illegal missionary activity,” news reports quote Chaika as saying. Johnson says the station “has never committed any questionable programming action that would violate government-defined standards,” nor has it ever received any warning from federal broadcast authorities.

“The NLR denial is proof of a general attitude held by members of the national license committee that they will not support Christian radio applicants and certainly not those outside the Russian Orthodox Church,” Johnson notes. The Orthodox Church has been pushing the government to curb activities of all religious groups outside its umbrella, he adds.

The station ceased operating in December following the attempted takeover of the station by the owner of a local radio and TV station. After the bid failed, the owner convinced the local prosecutor to demand that NLR Magadan stop broadcasting, Johnson says. He adds that the local branch of the Federal Communication Service was willing to allow the station to continue broadcasting during the renewal process.

The news is more positive in Moscow, Johnson says. “NLR Moscow is finding many new outlets and listeners in cities across Russia and the Ukraine.”

The station is exploring streaming radio and TV on the Internet to reach further into Russia and even the United States, Johnson says. The station is negotiating with a Seattle radio station to use special FM signals to reach the area’s Slavic population, which reaches 200,000 people.

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