February 15, 2007
The Miracle Channel’s hucksters discover that their pitch is less than perfect:
The Miracle Channel, a religious television station that has come under fire for its on-air fundraising campaigns, could lose its broadcast licence in the future if it doesn’t follow new rules on how donations are solicited.
Federal regulators told the station yesterday they are considering a rare step that would see the Miracle Channel’s right to broadcast linked to how well it abides by its own internal standards.
The cable channel, which raises more than $5-million a year, was ordered to revise its internal fundraising policy last year after controversial on-air statements led to complaints. Hosts during a 2004 fund-
raising campaign urged viewers to cash in their retirement savings and charge up credit cards to make donations. In some cases, viewers were told they would be rewarded by God with cash or higher real estate values.
At hearings in front of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the channel was told its new internal fundraising policy could be made a condition of its licence.
That would mean the station could lose its ability to broadcast if it steps outside the rules it set for itself, CRTC vice-chair Michel Arpin told executives with the Lethbridge, Alta.-based Miracle Channel.
… The channel’s revised fundraising policy sets out examples of appropriate statements that can be made on air. Hosts are allowed to make comments such as: “We ask you to consider the best gift that you are able to pledge at this time.” They are not allowed to say: “If you don’t give today, you are robbing God and could go bankrupt.”
The document also states “fundraising appeals must not create unrealistic donor expectations of what a donor’s gift will actually accomplish.” Allowable phrases include: “We believe that as you give, God will bless you in your area of need.” The new policy does not allow statements such as: “Because you gave a gift of this amount, God says you will see your income double this month.”
Still, it obviously works: Miracle’s testimonials page credits the channel with curing everything from asthma to brain injuries. Not to mention the miracle experienced by “CA” from Regina, Saskatchewan:
I sowed a seed during the Fresh Oil broadcast. About three months later, I got over a month of unexpected work, which multiplied my seed many times. Isn't that neat?
It sure is. If somewhat incomprehensible.
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