IN A SHOCK move United Christian Broadcasters have announced their intention to take legal action against the United Kingdom Government in an effort to lift the current ban on national Christian broadcasting in Britain. UCB believe that the refusal by the Broadcasting Authorities to even grant UCB an application form for a radio licence is a breach of the rights granted under the Human Rights convention, namely a breach of 1. Freedom Of Expression, 2. Freedom Of Religion, and 3. Freedom From Discrimination. UCB will be taking their case to the International Courts and are working with lawyers in Brussels, international law research Baker And McKenzie (the world's biggest law firm) and David Pannick QC, one of the most highly respected barristers in the country.

The decision to take the unprecedented legal action comes in the light of the latest efforts by the government to restrict UCB's activities. The Long Wave radio frequency, which was secured from the Russian Federation specifically for Christian broadcasting, has now been put out for a 10-year tender application as a commercial radio station, being advertised in the Financial Times. Efforts by UCB to obtain technical and broadcasting licences have been thwarted despite the frequency planning engineering consulting cost being met by UCB up to international registration. In the words of one member of the House Of Lords, this constitutes 'international theft'.

The legal action against the government will also bring up the matter of a petition organised by UCB on behalf of 276,000 people. This petition, never mentioned in Parliament, was subsequently destroyed. UCB managing director Gareth Littler said,' At the beginning of 1998, the UK Government signed the Convention For The Protection Of Minorities which, within our legal framework, ensures that 'persons belonging to a national minority are not discriminated against in their access to the media' and with specific reference to sound radio and television broadcasting, that 'persons belonging to national minorities are granted the possibility of creating and using their own media.'

This convention doesn't give UCB legal rights in our mission to obtain a national radio licence, but it is a sign that this government recognises the rights of minorities and the same freedom for everybody, including Christians. Meanwhile our lawyers have produced a legal opinion in support of our case for a change to the law. Please pray that the Broadcast Minister will meet with us. We will keep asking although, so far, she has not responded to our request.' Littler continued, 'Our Word For Today is helping and transforming the lives of remarkable numbers of people and we are also battling away to build Medium Wave radio stations. In addition, this legal case could stretch us to the limit - but for God! Any opportunity for a Christ-centred, Bible-based revival, renewal, restoration or second reformation in Europe requires basic freedom for religious expression. This is the biggest battle we have ever faced.' CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.