Radio and TV Aren't Just for Ads, Says Vatican Official

Archbishop Foley Addresses Broadcasters Meeting

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, NOV. 8, 2005 ( The Church is not against commercial advertising in the media, particularly radio and television. But it does believe that those media are not simply electronic billboards for commercial services.

This conviction was expressed today by Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, when addressing the meeting of the European Broadcasting Union, held in Amsterdam.

The American prelate explained that at the ethical level the media must be guided by «three fundamental principles of truth, respect for the dignity of the individual and the service of the common good.»

«The Catholic Church has been involved in advertising for 2,000 years,» he said. «We call it evangelization, we really believe our message and we offer much more than a lifetime guarantee.»

«When advertising executives accuse us correctly of occasionally being guilty of the ‘mortal sin’ in communications — of being dull — I invite them to help us to communicate our message in an ever more interesting way,» the Vatican official said. «I remind them that we don’t pay much, but that our retirement benefits are out of this world.»

Public airwaves

Archbishop Foley continued: «While I have nothing against advertising in radio and television, as you have already heard, I am convinced that radio and television must be more than an electronic billboard for commercial goods and services.

«The airwaves belong to the public; frequencies are assigned to serve the public. While commercial broadcasters have a right to make a living, they have no right to make a killing — and public authority has a right to demand that even commercial broadcasters maintain certain standards of good taste and also provide programming which truly serves the common good, including public service programming.»

The archbishop invited public broadcasting services not only to produce valuable programs of news and entertainment, but also programming which helps «to keep alive the rich cultural traditions of the nations of Europe.»

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