It was just a year ago, during the National Religious Broadcasters convention, that rumors about evangelist Jim Bakker's use of ministry money to hush up a sexual dalliance began to gather momentum.

Yesterday, in the wake of the scandal that eventually cost Bakker both his PTL ministry and his ministerial credentials -- and soured support for TV evangelists nationwide -- the NRB adopted ethical standards that make greater financial accountability a condition for membership in the organization.

The new code will require member organizations with annual income of more than $500,000 to provide "full disclosure of financial information and an annual report to be made available to anyone who asks for it," said Ben Armstrong, executive director of the NRB, which is holding its 45th annual convention here.

Member organizations also will be required to have a board of directors of at least five persons, in which the majority shall be "other than those joined by a family relationship, staff or employees," according to the new code.

An NRB commission will be established to administer the code.

But while salaries and other benefits paid to evangelists and other staff members must be reported to the commission, there is no requirement for public disclosure of the amounts individuals are paid.

"Salaries of the staff are proprietary matters," Armstrong said in defense of the provision. "The nine people on the commission will know the salaries and they will know the situation as it exists."

Armstrong was asked in a press conference to estimate what the commission might consider excessive compensation: $100,000? $500,000? $5 million?

"I don't know the answer," he responded. "The commission will have to deal with that."

David Clark, trustee of the bankrupt PTL operation, had complained to an earlier gathering at the five-day convention that Bakker, PTL's founder, had been paid millions in salaries and bonuses by the ministry.

The NRB's 1,350 members -- overwhelmingly evangelical Protestants -- have had a laissez faire attitude toward any efforts, private or government, to regulate their affairs.

But public reaction to the PTL scandal, plus a congressional hearing last year that raised the specter of government intervention if the TV preachers didn't clean up their act, made the limited steps toward self-regulation more attractive.

Armstrong has consistently sought to portray the establishment of the NRB's new Ethics and Financial Integrity Commission as an initiative of the organization, independent of the Bakker scandal. "We started {work on the commission} a year before that happened," he said.

But he conceded that he was "not at all sure this would have passed today if it had not been for PTL." And he added, "It's my guess there would not be the kind of teeth in it if it had not been for what transpired."

Debate and vote on the new integrity commission took place behind closed doors. Armstrong said that of the 330 voting members present, "all but six were in favor."

Member organizations will have two years to bring their operations up to snuff. The NRB will issue a seal of compliance for those in good standing, but will not disclose the names of those that don't meet the standards.

"We feel the ability to utilize a seal {of compliance} will be the kind of certification the donor needs," Armstrong said. "It is not necessary to talk about those who decertify."

Of the best-known broadcast evangelists, only Oral Roberts and Robert Schuller are not members of NRB, Armstrong said. Bakker was once a vice president.