Christian broadcaster Salem Communications Corp. declared an early cash dividend for the fourth quarter, joining a growing number of companies speeding the payments to avoid possible tax obligations for investors.

The Camarillo company, which owns radio stations, Internet sites and book publishing operations, will pay 3.5 cents per share to all stockholders of record on Dec. 14. The dividend will be paid Dec. 28, three days prior to the end of its fourth quarter.

Other companies that have declared early dividends include Burbank’s Walt Disney Co.; Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, Ark. and Costco Wholesale Corp. of Issaquah, Wash.

The companies are trying to avert higher taxes on dividends, which will begin Jan. 1 if Congress and the president cannot agree on a deal that balances spending and tax cuts. However, no deal to avoid falling off the so-called “financial cliff” has been announced.

Shares of Salem fell 14 cents, or 3 percent, to close at $5.11 in trading Thursday on the Nasdaq.