Module 68

      

Updated: 06/28/2011

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Religious Broadcasting

An area of broadcast television that has been rapidly growing is religious programming. This area includes over-the-air broadcasting, cablecasting, satellite-to-home distribution, and closed-circuit and instructional programming.

The Catholic Church has the largest radio and TV broadcast system. However, the various fundamentalists Christian groups constitute the largest block of broadcast outlets.

Most of the fundamentalist TV ministries depend upon viewer contributions for their survival. Although various scandals within these TV ministries hurt funding for some time, revenues have recently rebounded, and this is an area of broadcasting that is seeing rapid growth.

At the same time, many cable and satellite outlets shun religious broadcast programming because they are not backed by the huge media conglomerates that can provide financial incentives. There is also the fact that most religious programming does not contain "slots" for inserting local commercials, which provide additional revenue.

Sky Angel

In 1996, Robert Johnson saw the problem of getting religious programming distributed on cable channels. To get around some of these problems he launched Sky Angel on the EchoStar III satellite. Soon, he was leasing satellite transponder space to 20 inspirational television networks and 16 radio channels.

Many viewers like the fact that once they install the equipment and sign up, they find themselves in an "inspirational broadcast world," largely shielded from programming they may find objectionable.

Sky Angel uses DISH Network's uplink facility in Cheyenne, Wy., and those who wish to view these channels must install an 18-inch dish and pay $120.00 annually.

Recently, DISH tried to add two religious networks to their service, Daystar and FamilyNet. DISH said they had to comply with federally mandated requirements in the matter. However, Sky Angel sued, saying that it had the legal right to be the exclusive carrier of most of DISH's religious programming. Subsequently, a federal judge ordered DISH to drop Daystar and FamilyNet.

Sky Angel has announced plans to bypass the DISH uplink facility and build its own $25 million uplink base in Florida. It also wants to launch its own satellite that would expand its channel capacity.

The table below lists some of the most popular outlets for faith-based and inspirational broadcasting.

Inspirational and Faith-Based Broadcast Outlets
Date Started
Distribution
BET - Gospel
2002
N/A
The Church Channel
2002
11,500,000
Ecumenical TV Channel
1983
500,000
EWTN
1981
50,000,000
Family Net
1988
36,000,000
Goodlife TV
1985
12,000,000
iLife TV
1998
6,000,000
INSP
1998
6,000,000
JCTV
2002
3,000,000
Oasis TV
1997
1,500,000
PAX TV
1998
73,000,000
TBN
1973
80,000,000
The Word Network
2000
20,000,000
Wisdom TV Network
1997
6,500,000
Worship Network
1992
66,000,000

>>Just a few of the publications that focus on religious issues and technology are:


 

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