As the new year—and a new Congress—unfolds, the public policy division at NRB anticipates an exciting new chapter of advancing NRB’s strategic priorities in the Nation’s capital as we protect the rights and interests of Christian broadcasters in the legislative and regulatory arenas.
Throughout the year, this office spearheads direct lawmaker engagement, raises NRB’s profile on Capitol Hill, strategizes with industry colleagues on shared priorities, produces articles and analysis, submits public filings in the agency rulemaking process, issues statements on public policy matters, hosts live calls and briefings with subject matter experts, and more.
“The effectiveness of NRB government relations rests on the strength of our relationships with lawmakers, policymakers, and their staff,” says Noelle Garnier, NRB’s Washington, D.C.-based director of public policy and communications. “It’s a great privilege to champion the NRB brand on Capitol Hill and represent the interests of small, local, and independent broadcasters to the nation’s leaders.”
NRB’s areas of public policy engagement fall into four categories:
- Advocating for a Favorable Business Environment for Broadcasters
Core to NRB’s mission is advocating for First Amendment freedoms and the ability of our members to maintain their voice in the marketplace. NRB engages Congress and federal agencies to champion a legal and regulatory environment favorable to small, local, and independent broadcasters like our members. This area includes issues like performance and streaming royalties, must-carry and retransmission consent rules, broadband deployment, net neutrality, and other legislative and regulatory measures impacting broadcasters.
- Addressing Threats to Religious Free Speech
NRB monitors issues of corporate censorship, government incursion on free speech, and other forms of hostility toward Christian communicators and Christian viewpoints, including emerging threats linked to contemporary political and cultural events. This area includes online and offline deplatforming, Section 230, pro-life communications, and more.
- Defending the Rights of Religious Nonprofits
Religious exemptions and donor privacy are essential to the survival of religious nonprofits. Many NRB members are ministries that rely on these protections to engage in Christian issue advocacy, charitable work, humanitarian aid, and more. NRB monitors issues impacting rights of conscience, tax-exempt status, and donor privacy for Christian organizations and professionals, including the Equality Act, the DISCLOSE Act, IRS targeting of religious nonprofits, and more.
- First Amendment Freedoms in the Courts
NRB participates periodically in amicus briefs in cases involving threats to First Amendment freedoms. NRB also monitors federal judicial nominations and opposes nominees to the federal bench whose professional backgrounds demonstrate hostility toward First Amendment freedoms or religious free speech.
2022 was a fruitful and rewarding year for NRB government relations, with strategic wins in a variety of public policy verticals springing from NRB’s unique profile as the premiere association of Christian broadcasters.
Standing for Local Radio
Throughout the 117th Congress, NRB advocated for H.Con.Res.33, the Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA), a nonbinding resolution that expresses a commitment from Congress not to levy a new performance tax on broadcasters. NRB met with lawmakers, mobilized member stations to air spots supporting the LRFA, and urged NRB radio members to engage their representatives using advocacy materials provided by NRB. In September, the LRFA crossed a key threshold: an absolute majority in the House of Representatives, sending a clear signal that any performance tax legislation would be dead on arrival. NRB joined industry colleagues in successfully ensuring that the opposing bill, the American Music Fairness Act, did not circumvent the legislative process and was not included in the year-end omnibus bill. The Local Radio Freedom Act remains a key area of collaboration between NRB and industry colleagues and will likely be reintroduced in the 118thCongress in early 2023.
Representing Christian Broadcasters at the FCC
In July, NRB filed comment on a proposed FCC regulatory rate increase and urged the Commission to reexamine its fee rationale, unburden broadcasters from the costs of broadband-related Commission activities, and exercise its discretion to mitigate the adverse effects of a substantial fee increase. In August, NRB President & CEO Troy A. Miller and Noelle Garnier met with senior FCC Media Bureau staff to discuss issues of longstanding importance to NRB members, as well as up-and-coming proposals with significant impacts, including regulatory fee methodology, the creation of new compliance burdens, and the significance of must-carry rules to Christian broadcasters. At the 2022 NRB Convention, FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington participated virtually in a fireside chat on issues including Section 230 and its role in tech censorship, net neutrality, and equal employment opportunity (EEO) rulemaking.
Convening Christian Leaders
NRB hosted two special events for members of the President’s Council, a group of Christian executives who commit to an additional investment of time and resources in NRB’s public policy activities. At the 2022 NRB Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, NRB hosted a President’s Council reception sponsored by Newsmax, featuring remarks from Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy. In September, NRB hosted members of the President’s Council for its annual Capitol Hill Media Summit. Attendees heard from esteemed policymakers and newsmakers, including former Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), former Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), Senator-elect Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Judicial Crisis Network president Carrie Campbell Severino, Salem Radio Network host Brandon Tatum, Newsmax chief White House correspondent James Rosen, Washington Times opinion editor Charlie Hurt, and others. At the summit, NRB presented its 2022 First Freedoms Award to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). The program included extensive opportunities for dialogue with guests and relationship-building among President’s Council members.
Addressing Issues of Christian Concern
NRB celebrated a landmark year for the pro-life movement, hosting an expert panel on the pro-life, post-Roe landscape in the days following the Dobbs decision. The Supreme Court’s decision gave rise to rampant hostility against pro-life groups, and in July, NRB sent letters of appreciation to seventeen state attorneys general who wrote to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai to warn the tech giant not to discriminate against crisis pregnancy centers in Google search results.
In October, NRB filed a comment on a proposed rule by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interpreting Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which concerns “nondiscrimination in health programs and activities.” NRB’s comment objected to any language in the proposed regulations that could be read to violate, supersede, or preempt professional and evidence-based clinical judgments by requiring the provision and coverage of medically ineffective or harmful procedures. In November, NRB co-hosted an exclusive call with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, revealing new data on Americans’ views toward the transgender agenda and encouraging listeners to boldly speak up on this issue as Christian leaders, broadcasters, podcasters, and communicators.
In December, through Member Alert communications and phone scripts, NRB equipped members to engage their representatives on the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. NRB spoke out against the betrayal of faith-driven Americans by twelve Senate Republicans, and NRB President & CEO Troy A. Miller gave more than a dozen interviews expressing NRB’s opposition to the legislation and its inherent religious liberty risks.
In 2022, NRB communications and public policy worked hand-in-glove to message our strategic priorities, bring NRB members up to date on impactful policy matters, mobilize citizens to engage with lawmakers directly, and amplify the successes of our association members in the advocacy space. Behind the scenes, we developed NRB’s relationships with lawmakers, Congressional staff, public policy experts, and industry colleagues. On air, NRB seized every opportunity to communicate consistent messages on challenging issues of the day. We will build on these successes exponentially as we refine and expand NRB policy operations and deepen our relationships with elected officials, agency leadership, likeminded coalitions, and corporate entities in an action-oriented 2023.
As anti-Christian hostility increasingly finds expression in powerful corporations and even institutions of government, NRB seeks to skillfully leverage public policy engagement to hold the door open for Christian broadcasting, defend First Amendment freedoms, and advance excellence in Christian media. We welcome communication from members about your legislative interests, policy issues that impact you, and the advocacy work that your organizations are doing. For all inquiries related to NRB advocacy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.