Britain's Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has provided additional funding to a Christian satellite television network for the Middle East and North Africa looking to increase their live broadcasting capabilities. The greater exposure will help them to reach more Christians in the 19 countries where they broadcast.
ACN reported on Wednesday that with the nearly $19,000 they have given to SAT-7's television studio in Cairo, more live feeds will be offered and the quality of programs will be improved.
As part of its "common vision" with ACN, SAT-7 seeks to promote increased understanding among Christians, provide accurate information on the faith and improve inter-religious cooperation through news, debate, music and drama programs.
According the Executive Director of SAT-7’s European Office, Kurt Johansen, “From the beginning we said we want(ed) to unite the churches in their diversity – (to) show they can have unity.
“We don’t hide differences but we discuss them in a polite and civilized way.”
The network, which currently offers programming from a variety of Christian denominations, touts the increased ability to offer live broadcasting to the eight million people who tune in to SAT-7 as an exciting way to "enable real interaction with viewers."
An example of the network's offerings are the live discussions between leading members of Eastern Orthodox, Oriental, Catholic and Protestant traditions who are available for call-in questions from the viewing audience.
In the Middle East, where "TV is the media," and people watch more television on average than in any other place on Earth, it is the most effective way to reach Christians across the 19 countries in the area, said Johansen.
He went on to explain that “Many Christians are not very well educated, they cannot read, they have no access to a priest – but on SAT-7 they can tune in and 24 hours a day learn about and have deeper roots in the Christian faith.”
It was also noted that in countries where Christian literature is subject to restrictions, the Christian satellite broadcasts go untouched.
Commenting on the ability of the broadcasting to eliminate misunderstandings between denominations, Johansen noted, “There is more respect, more tolerance – it’s tearing down barriers in a positive way.”
ACN reported that the recent donation to the Cairo studio followed encouragement from Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 for increased assistance to Christians in the Middle East as well as more financial support for broadcasting to help Catholic communities.
Besides the live feeds, SAT-7 programs include Christian soap operas, Bible-based films, quiz shows on Scripture and even weekly addresses from Coptic Orthodox leader Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria.