President Bush risks offending some of his strongest supporters if he vetoes the cable reregulation bill: the National Religious Broadcasters Assn.

NRBA exec director E. Brandt Gustavson said in a letter to the White House yesterday he “would prefer not to oppose you in a veto override fight. … However, we will support an override if it is necessary.”

Religious broadcasters are strongly backing Bush in his re-election fight, primarily because of the president’s anti-abortion stand.

NRBA backs the cable bill because of a “must-carry” provision that assures the continued carriage of all broadcast stations on a cable system. Lack of must-carry protection “would threaten the future of many religious broadcast stations,” said Gustavson.

Gustavson noted that many NRBA members are running ads urging viewers to call members of Congress to express support for the legislation.

The NRBA letter was hailed as a lobbying coup by broadcast industry groups who are fighting for the “retransmission consent” provision of the bill. “We can’t lose,” quipped one broadcast wag. “We’ve got the Lord on our side.”

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