Today the Court of Appeal upheld a ban on a Christian radio station broadcasting an ad on Christian marginalisation, a decision described as an “attack on freedom of speech” by the station’s CEO.
Two of the three judges who heard the case ruled against the radio station, but one – Lord Justice Elias – said the broadcaster should have won.
He said the advert is lawful because it did not include a politically biased message.
At the time of the last general election, Premier Christian Radio was due to air the 30 second ad which requested information on whether Christians had been sidelined at work, in order to “help make a fairer society”.
But the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) stopped it from being broadcast, claiming that it was “directed to a political end”.
The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said in his decision that the advert was “directed to the political end of making a fairer society”, which is against broadcasting law.
Peter Kerridge, CEO of Premier Christian Radio, says there is no good reason for the Court of Appeal to uphold the ban.
He said, “this is not only a bad day for freedom of speech for Christians, it is also a bad day for democracy in general, and a very bad day at the office for the Master of the Rolls”.
“This would suggest that any radio advertisement calling for data to inform public debate to help a fairer society would also be banned.”
He added: “The public interest cannot be best served by preventing people from gaining information and we believe that such a ban represents an attack on freedom of speech for everyone.”
He said Premier Christian Radio is considering further options with its legal representatives.
The original advert quoted surveys showing that 60% of Christians were being increasingly sidelined at work.
A judicial review in March last year upheld the original ban but Premier Christian Radio were granted leave to appeal.