NEW YORK (Mar. 29)
The management of WPIX-TV announced today that it has cancelled “Les Crane Reports on Jews for Jesus,” a program that was scheduled to be broadcast at midnight tonight. The management of the television outlet, owned by the NY Daily News, refused further comment.
The program, produced by Beth Shar Shalom, an affiliate of the American Board of Missions to the Jews, which purchased the broadcast time, had been widely advertised. A quarter-page advertisement in the NY Times today urged viewers to watch the show to find out “What’s behind this movement sweeping the country, particularly among the youth.” The reference was to the “Jews for Jesus” movement. Les Crane, who made the filmed report, was formerly a late night talk show host on local channels.
Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, director of the American Jewish Committee’s inter-religious affairs department, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that WPIX had informed him of the cancellation after the program was screened at its studios last night for representatives of Jewish organizations. Rabbi Tanenbaum called the station’s decision “a commendable action entirely consistent with the FCC’s regulations requiring that programs must be ‘in the public interest.’ ” He said WPIX had “properly evaluated this program as one that is not in the public interest.”
WPIX was reportedly innundated with telephone calls protesting the program when the ad appeared in the Times, though by then it had already announced the cancellation. Rabbi Tanenbaum said that he and others who viewed the show found it to contain “an invidious defamation of Judaism as a living religion and of the Jewish people as a vital historic community.” He said it contained blatantly offensive statements, such as describing the synagogue as “a place of sadness filled only with weary old men.”