TBN regains Miami license

COURTS: Religious broadcaster wins ruling that lets it operate its Florida station.

The Orange County Register/May 6, 2000
By John Mcdonald

The Orange County-based Trinity Broadcast Network won a key federal court ruling Friday that restores its license to operate a Miami television station through a board of minority members.

Federal Communications Commission officials refused to renew the license for TBN in 1995 on the grounds that the minority-controlled board of National Minority TV was a "sham."

The dispute centered on whether Phil Aguilar, then pastor of Set Free Christian Fellowship in Anaheim was a mere figurehead serving TBN on the NMTV board.

"Although we defer to the Commission's interpretation of its regulation as requiring actual minority control, we find that neither the regulation nor the Commission's related statements gave fair notice of that requirement.

We therefore vacate the Commission's denial of appellants' license renewal application," said the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for District of Colombia Circuit.

Dr. Paul Crouch, founder and president of religion-oriented Trinity and a director of NMTV, was traveling in Asia on Friday. He said in a prepared statement: "For nearly a decade this proceeding has hung like a dark cloud over Trinity, and I thank the Lord that this ordeal has ended with this exoneration.

At no time did Trinity or NMTV ever attempt to violate the Commission's rules, and it's good to have the court confirm that."

The federal court panel found TBN's interpretation of the FCC minority-control regulation, "particularly understandable." The court also chided the FCC for being harsher in dealing with TBN than with other licensees.

Lawyers for the FCC could not be reached for comment on a possible appeal.

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