Via The NY Transfer News Service 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683 Title: PAT ROBERTSON'S GROWING

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Via The NY Transfer News Service 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683 Title: PAT ROBERTSON'S GROWING MEDIA EMPIRE Pat Robertson's Growing Media Empire By Michael C. Burton When Pat Robertson bid $6 million for the United Press International in May, he sought not only to add an important component to his expanding media empire, but also to gain control of a key news service for influencing U.S. and Latin American citizens. Only CNN's Ted Turner, CBS' Lawrence Tisch, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch have as much individual power over the media business in the United States as this evangelical preacher. The mainstream media covered the UPI bid announcement as a dry business story, with virtually no corporate journalist asking the important question: what does this right-wing fundamentalist want with a news service that provides access to millions of people? Robertson already has carved out a powerful niche in the control of information in this country: he founded and is president of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), a $143.8 million a year company that not only runs political programming, but also a slick marketing program that reaches millions through direct mail and telephone "counseling centers." Robertson also is chairman of International Family Entertainment, a media conglomerate that owns the Family Channel on cable TV (reaching more than 55 million households, or 60 percent of the U.S. viewing public). With his son, Timothy, Robertson also heads the U.S. Media Corporation, which operates a domestic radio network. Although some journalists wrote about these business details, they didn't raise questions of Robertson's background and how he's made such enormous profits through CBN, a non-profit company. The network made over $143 million last year. The Family Channel, which began in 1977 as a satellite component of CBN, took in $70.8 million in advertising revenue and $42.9 million in subscriber fees in 1991; with an estimated profit of $19.8 million. Because it is listed as a religious organization, CBN is tax-exempt (U.S. Media Corporation, however, is a for-profit subsidiary). The public also didn't get to read or hear much about Robertson's political agenda after his new purchase -- although it is key to understanding why he bid for a news service that is losing money. Through the late 1960s, Robertson and his employee, Jim Bakker, shared hosting the "700 Club" on CBN, regularly giving their listeners political views to the right of Ronald Reagan. In 1980, Robertson was quoted as saying, "We have enough votes to run the country. And when people say, `We've had enough,' we are going to take over." More recently, Robertson has attacked those "militant feminists," gays in the military, and historians who "try to slant history to favor minorities and favor women." Unfortunately, mainstream networks and daily newspapers aren't delving into Robertson's political designs, even though he ran for president in 1988 and is currently spearheading an effort by the Christian right to take over key local and state races in California (after success in San Diego in 1990, when the Christian Right got 60 of 90 candidates elected to local offices). The Christian Coalition in California, which has 52 chapters and 10,000 members in that state, is working to elect officials who have strong anti-abortion and anti-gay positions (some even supporting the death penalty for homosexuality). Many of the Christian Right groups follow Robertson's agenda of total integration of biblical law into society. The National Coordinating Council, a spinoff of the Coalition on Revival, includes in its goals the abolition of public schools and "bringing the local media under the influence of a biblical world view." Robertson's bid for UPI is part of that plan, but journalists seemed to ignore asking questions like this when he announced his offer to buy UPI. They only had to look in Robertson's current newsletter to the Christian Coalition, where he accuses organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women, the National Education Association, and the National Council of Churches of taking over the government and the private sector. Robertson's goal for the newsletter: "to make it the biggest newspaper in the United States of America." "The strategy against the American radical left should be the same as General Douglas MacArthur employed against the Japanese in the Pacific," the newsletter states. "Bypass their strongholds, then surround them, isolate them, bombard them, then blast the individuals out of their power bunkers with hand-to-hand combat. The battle to regain the soul of America won't be pleasant, but we will win it." CBN, which broadcasts heavily in Central and South America, has defined a "Latin America strategy" to displace existing faiths and cultures with a fundamentalist Christian doctrine through missionary and counter-insurgency work. In their book "Holy Terror" authors Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman show evidence that Robertson, Jerry Falwell and other religious fundamentalists were working with Reagan officials in the early 1980s to support Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt. In an interview with Larry King on May 28, Robertson said he wanted to use UPI's radio network to supplement his 400 CBN stations and 70 Florida network stations. He also mentioned his radio station in Lebanon. In a recent "Road to Victory Conference," Robertson said he wanted to place regular daily "one-minute commentaries" on at least 2,000 radio stations, plus "similar one- minute commentaries on at least the top 200 radio and TV stations in the top 200 markets in America." "I'm a very credible journalist," Robertson said. While denying that he wanted to inject his religious views in UPI ("I'm for wholesome, balanced truth," he told King), he did criticize the "secular press -- what is called the liberal media. These people have an unconscious feeling that they're right and the others are wrong." With his power over the media, Robertson won't have to worry about those other views; he has an electronic pulpit of his own. From MEDIA MONITOR, the June/July 1992 issue, Vol. 2 No. 3, a bimonthly publication of the Council for Public Media. Copyright Council for Public Media: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited.


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