A small group of Christian broadcasters stood outside the doors of the
Department of Justice Thursday to denounce the proposed merger between EchoStar
Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp.
Pastor John Hagee, reading from a lengthy statement, declared that EchoStar's
leadership was 'pro-pornography' and that the company wanted to create a
satellite monopoly with no interest in carrying Christian broadcasting.
Hagee, joined by Oral Roberts University president Dr. Richard Roberts and a
few other ministers, arrived with boxes that they said contained 400,000
anti-merger petitions signed by 1.5 million Americans. A DOJ spokeswoman said
the agency planned to deliver the boxes to the antitrust division.
Hagee refused to take press questions. He and the other ministers jumped into
parked limousines and fled the scene quickly. Roberts, however, did deny that
News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, who is trying to scuttle the DBS
deal, is financing his anti-merger efforts.
Nearby, about 20 people, many of them children, waved placards denouncing the
risqué programming on Murdoch's broadcast and cable channels. One sign read,
'Fox Network is soft-core porn.'
Will Nance, who fielded questions for the counterprotestors, said he was a
private citizen out to stop Murdoch from acquiring DirecTV in the event that the
EchoStar deal is disallowed. He denied that EchoStar paid him and his people to
'We don't want Rupert Murdoch to have more control over television,' Nance
said. 'We feel that he is the leading cause for lowering standards on
television. He's the enemy of Christian conservatives.'
EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said both DBS firms offer an abundance of
'We are at a loss to understand why these ministers would protest two
companies that provide the most religious broadcasting available in the United
States today,' Lumpkin said.