FCC asks churches to closed caption or stop broadcasting - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

FCC asks churches to closed caption or stop broadcasting

TYLER & LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV)- Hundreds of churches across the country, including East Texas,  risk having their religious broadcasts forced off the air if they don't fulfill closed captioning requirements by February.

In 2006 many churches were granted exemptions from this requirement by the FCC, but those exemptions will soon be lifted.

For churches like First Baptist Church in Tyler, sharing Sunday sermons on TV has been something the community has come to expect-- after all they've been doing it since 1965.

"We've been here for a long time and we want to continue getting the message out about Christ and how he loves people and how it makes a difference in peoples' lives," said FBC Tyler Minister of Worship Billy Bob Dempsey.

But now, getting their message out, could start costing them a lot more

"We've already done our budget for 2012 and depending on the cost of closed captioning we're going to have to do some pretty serious re-evaluation," Dempsey said.

"It's pretty expensive to get closed captioning for a 30 minute program for our church," said Lewis Etters, director of television ministry at First United Methodist Church in Longview.

He said closed captioning their services could cost them up to $500 each.

"It's just that for a private church, it's too expense, and if we could do it, we'd do it, but right now we can't do it," Etters said.

But it's not just the cost that has the churches concerned.

"The most troubling thing aside from the cost of closed captioning is that it delays the broadcast, and so trying to keep current with our church members that are shut in at home and other members of the community, that would delay that and make that more difficult to do ," Dempsey said.

They said that'd be a delay of about three weeks

For now both churches said they'll re-apply for the exemption and hope the FCC grants it.
The FCC said those exemptions will be granted case-by-case, based on the church's financial standing.

The FCC said those churches have 90 days to re-apply or start paying for their broadcasts to be captioned

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