Christian broadcast group urges House to drop defamation bill

courts 04.08
'The practical impact of the legislation will result in a cottage industry of well-funded trial lawyers weaponizing the libel law’s provisions to silence voices their funders disagree with.'

A national group of Christian broadcasters is asking lawmakers not to pass legislation that would make it easier to sue journalists and news outlets for defamation.

Michael Farris, general counsel for National Religious Broadcasters, wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, on Monday asking him to drop HB 757. He called the bill “deeply flawed legislation” that could lead to the ruin of many Christian stations.

“While the bill’s authors may have well-meaning intentions, the practical impact of the legislation will result in a cottage industry of well-funded trial lawyers weaponizing the libel law’s provisions to silence voices their funders disagree with,” Farris wrote. “Christian radio and television stations lacking the financial means to defend themselves in court will be left to decide between proactively avoiding topics of public debate or facing litigation that could result in a station’s bankruptcy.”

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican. It would create a presumption in law that if a news outlet published a false statement by an anonymous source, they were acting with “actual malice” — the standard of proof required in a defamation lawsuit. It also would set up “veracity hearings” to hear evidence when a defamation lawsuit is brought. Critics contend it will erode anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) protections and lead to a gut of lawsuits that will chill speech.

The veracity hearings concern Farris as well.

“The expedited nature of this process empowers the well-funded and handcuffs those with fewer financial means,” Farris wrote. “Family-owned Christian broadcast stations, as well as many nonprofit stations, will be left sifting through their transcripts and recordings in search of a defense, while well-organized special interest groups and their army of attorneys pounce.”

The bill is scheduled for its last hearing Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee before heading to the House floor. The Senate version of the bill (SB 1780) has one more committee stop before heading to the floor in that chamber. The Regular Session is slated to end March 8.

Gray Rohrer


  • florida is Breaking Bad not set in a dry area

    February 20, 2024 at 5:55 am

    Christians are Earth’s cancer. Close all churches and Save Earth.

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 20, 2024 at 7:41 am

    What is it that “Family-owned Christian broadcast stations” broadcast from anonymous sources that, if silenced, has this guy’s panties all in a wad? Stories about zombies? Water into wine? Walking on water? Walking on whine? Whine whine whine. Jesus never saw coming just how much whine He created.

  • Elmo

    February 20, 2024 at 8:31 am

    They are asking for permission to continue their disinformation campaign.

    • Michael K

      February 20, 2024 at 12:44 pm


    • Dont Say FLA

      February 20, 2024 at 2:24 pm

      Oh, right! Duh. Pardon me. I hadn’t had my coffee yet when I posted earlier wondering what their problem was.

  • Reid Loveland

    February 20, 2024 at 1:29 pm

    This is like DeSantis’s book banning law he is trying to reign in because it’s causing chaos. Another law not thoroughly thought through.

  • Tom Palmer

    February 20, 2024 at 4:02 pm

    How the worm has turned. This was a bill that did not seem to have any rational basis to begin with. It is comical that these people have finally figured out that culture wars attacks cut both ways.

  • Poor Christians

    February 22, 2024 at 8:13 pm

    What non the world are these Christian propaganda machines worried about. They certainly know how to put out misinformation to overturn Roe. Put a gun in every pantry and claim Trump is the second coming of Christ.

Comments are closed.


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