By Stan Friedman
JAMESTOWN, NY (January 16, 2014) — New Life Radio (NLR) could be forced to close its remaining FM radio station on February 1, after the Russian government told the ministry to desist from using one of the two satellites used to broadcast its signal.
The ministry broadcasts continuous programming that includes music and teaching. It also webcasts its programming. The satellite programming is essential to reach remote areas, says Dan Johnson, president of Covenant Radio for Russia, which operates NLR.
The Evangelical Covenant Church started New Life Radio in the 1990s. Although it is no longer a ministry of the denomination, several Covenant churches across the country continue to support the ministry.
New Life Radio began using the Tricolor satellite in 2011. At the time, Johnson told Covenant News Service, “This opportunity goes far beyond the dreams and expectations of the Covenant denomination when it made development of Christian radio in Russia its first modern era mission goal, beginning in 1993.”
Last December, the Russian state communication agency Roscomnadzor informed NLR that the ministry had been illegally using the satellite. Johnson says NLR has properly applied for licenses every year and had operated under licensing obtained by the satellite’s owner. “In essence, NLR had been granted immunity to be on Tricolor.”
The ministry will continue to use a satellite that is operated from Israel and does not have to be licensed by the Russian government, Johnson says. However, that satellite does not cover the entire country, including Dudinka, where the last of the ministry’s broadcast stations exists.
In recent years, the government has cracked down on Christian ministries not connected with the Orthodox Church and has forced Covenant Radio for Russia to close several stations by denying operating licenses.
Johnson says the ministry has the opportunity to purchase rights to broadcast over the rest of the country using another foreign owned and operated satellite but needs to raise an additional $2,250 a month.