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Photo by Alexey Ruban on Unsplash
Photo by Alexey Ruban on Unsplash
USA News

US Christian radio stations filing discrimination law suit

by Lydia Davies

Some Christian radio stations in the USA, including St. Louis's 99.1 JOY FM, are taking a stand against the higher streaming costs they incur compared to non-religious stations through a lawsuit that alleges discriminatory royalty rates.

Rory Gray from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) highlighted the discrepancy. He said in a statement: "The government is charging religious broadcasters a significantly higher rate... It suppresses religious speech in the public sphere."

Christianity Today reported that the issue arose from unsuccessful negotiations with SoundExchange in 2016, leading to increased streaming costs for religious radio following a 2021 US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) ruling. "Noncommercial religious broadcasters are now paying rates at a commercial level," said Gray, emphasising the disparity with secular NPR stations' rates.

Malcolm Hawker of SESAC Music Group critiqued the current system. He told the news outlet: “I believe that it’s inherently unfair for these networks to exploit the CRB rate structure that’s available to educational radio stations given their financial profiles..."

ADF's John Bursch stated: “Religious broadcasters should have the freedom to exercise their faith and free speech without discrimination..." emphasising the lawsuit's aim to seek equal treatment with NPR stations.

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