Clear Channel & the Free Enterprise System

In the wake of our recent article on Clear Channel taking their Christian programming off the air, Christian Activities has received numerous calls and emails about the station’s change in format.
Christian Activities had a wonderful relationship
with 101.1 and traded ads and information on a regular basis, yet even we did not see this coming. This is not
surprising considering the staff apparently did not know either.
Since then our email has been full of letters from people wanting to know what has happened. While many letters were from people just wanting information or mourning the loss of their favorite station (see Letters to the Editor in our BY THE WAY section), several (which we chose not to run) have taken
the point of view that it is “sad” that a business has to make a profit and that we should “make,” “push” or “force” Clear Channel into bringing
back the Christian format. A couple of people have emailed about signing petitions or boycotting
the other Clear Channel stations and one irate reader said, “We will show them!”
Clear Channel faced the same problem Christian Activities faces: Christians typically do NOT support Christian
media with their advertising dollars. Many Christians seem to consider Christian media something to which they are
somehow “entitled.”
Clear Channel is owned by a large radio conglomerate who will not run a business without a certain profit
margin. This is NOT a bad thing! Like all businesses, Christian media has to pay the phone bills, the electric bills,
production costs, distribution costs, staff salaries and a host of other costs inherent in running a business. Because
Christian Activities is Christian owned and operated, we are willing to run on a much lower profit margin than a
mainstream business like Clear Channel, but even we have to eat and pay our bills.
The best way to “show them” is to show your support of Clear Channel by committing to advertising on the station if they bring back a Christian format. The best
way to support Christian Activities, incidentally, would be the same way. On the other hand, the best way to ensure
Clear Channel never considers the Christian market again is to act like we are entitled to Christian programming and
try to threaten or bully them into providing a free service for Christians.
A couple of people have approached me about a petition. I think a petition asking them to reconsider is a good idea
and I would readily sign a petition stating I listened to the station and would like to have it back on the air. I think a
petition showing how many people loved 101’s Christian format is a wonderful idea and to develop a grass roots
public conscience that would SUPPORT Christian media would be a benefit to us all.
However, there are some things we need to understand:
– As a democratic nation operating under the free enterprise system, America allows a business like Clear Channel
to make the best business decisions for itself. To believe they are acting outside of their rights as a business is a
false assumption.
– Clear Channel has an obligation to pay its employees and its bills and is making the change in format with this in
mind. To imply their is something wrong with Clear Channel making a profit is faulty logic.
– I do not believe Clear Channel made its decision with any malice towards the
Christian community although I certainly do wish they would reconsider. But we
have to offer them more than our anger and threats to make them see any benefit
in reconsidering. They have a BUSINESS to run. We have to meet their needs as
BUSINESSMEN in order for them to meet our needs as listeners.
I would like to see them reconsider taking Christian music off their station, but I think there
is a better, more understanding way to handle the problem than boycotting their
other stations and their advertisers, as some have suggested. If Christians want Christian radio, Christian websites,
Christian publications, they have to be willing to support Christian media.
Christian business have just as many expenses to cover as secular businesses. Without financial support from our
readers and listeners we cannot pay our bills.
Several people have asked me why 101 did not have a share-a-thon if they needed money. 101 was not a non-profit
station and did not operate on the premise of “fund raising.” While some Christian business operate on a what is
called a “non-profit” basis with share-a-thons, and pleas for donations, other businesses like 101, while working
with a similar budget (or in the case of Christian Activities, a much smaller budget), offer a promotional service
instead of a plea for a donation. There is nothing more or less ministry oriented in that. Paul made and sold tents to
support himself. There is no recorded share-a-thon in the Bible. Whether you donate to a “non-profit” station or
buy an ad on a Christian station like 101, you are still supporting a ministry, either way. I can assure you that often
the “non-profit” stations have bigger budgets, more staff, and larger salaries than similar Christian media who do
not choose to operate on share-a-thons and donations. Yet for some reason the term “non-profit” which is not found
in the Bible, by the way, has come to imply in many Christian minds that one organization is more “ministry
oriented” while the other, by default, must not be. If you are not “non-profit” some people assume that means you
are “in it for the profit” which sounds just awful, doesn’t it?
Actually, there is nothing wrong with a profit. If you really need a spiritual sounding term, let’s call it “stewardship.”
The Bible is full of people who bought and sold products. I am sure many made a profit. This never seems to have
been an issue. The issue was what they did with their money and whether or not they made an UNFAIR profit by
taking advantage of others.
Secondly, as mentioned before, “non-profit” entities often make MUCH more money that their counterparts, but the
business itself cannot be sold for a profit. The fact that 101 was not “non-profit” in no way makes it any less
deserving of support or any less “ministry minded.”
Many Christian businesses realize it is much more advantageous for their customers not to go the non-profit route.
How can this be? To derive any benefit from your charitable donations, you have to give away a certain percentage
of your income for that year. So, if you give $100 to your favorite non-profit station, or even $1000, you will get a
nice receipt… but it might not do you any good at tax time depending upon your income for that year. However, if
for instance, you buy a $10 classified ad in Christian Activities for your business, it is an immediate tax deduction
as a business expense.
To make a business like Clear Channel reconsider taking Christian music off the air, we have to be willing to buy
ads to support the station.
To use an old adage: we have to put our money
where our mouth is.
Related Story:
101.1 No Longer Playing Christian Music

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