“Church Helps Form Cable TV Network,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 109
The Church and seventeen other religious organizations in the United States have agreed to sponsor an interfaith cable television network designed to provide “values-oriented” programming. Broadcasting began on Monday, September 19.
The new Vision Interfaith Satellite Network (VISN) offers a wide variety of wholesome, high-quality programs from a broad range of religious groups to audiences throughout the United States.
VISN is operated by the nonprofit National Interfaith Cable Coalition, with headquarters in New York City. While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a member of the coalition, it will be a major programmer. Programs will also be provided by Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant groups.
Each of these groups, including the Church, will be allotted specific time blocks for the airing of denominational programs on VISN. The new cable channel will also provide viewers a variety of nondenominational films and video presentations.
“VISN offers top-quality, values-oriented programming,” says Richard P. Lindsay, the Church’s managing director of public communications and special affairs.
“The programming has been prepared for a broad spectrum of viewers,” Brother Lindsay says, adding that “persons of faith who have not been attracted to currently available religion-oriented television will be drawn to VISN’s rich mix of appropriate entertainment, music, drama, and documentaries.
“The emphasis will be on faith in God and moral values.”
VISN will be distinguished from many other religious cable television networks now broadcasting in that its programs will contain no fund-raising appeals, no criticism of other faiths, and no direct proselyting.
Funding to support the programming will be provided by grants, corporate underwriting, and paid national advertising.
At one time, cable television was dominated by programming many people found objectionable. But, as Brother Lindsay points out, today cable television offers a wide variety of excellent programming. There are channels devoted to news, music, sports, science, and other areas of interest. Cable networks are able to focus on specific audiences and offer greater individualism than the major networks do.
VISN will provide a means for the Church to reach a large, national audience with its messages about family life, homelessness, drugs, and other vital issues. The new cable channel also offers a way by which the Church can improve public perception of the Church and strengthen the work of stakes and wards.
“The Church’s entry into cable television broadcasting does not mean that the Church is promoting cable TV,” Brother Lindsay said. “The Church is not encouraging members to make any special effort to subscribe to cable television. The new programming is simply being made available to the viewing public.
“VISN initially provides the Church an opportunity to disseminate to millions of viewers—both members and nonmembers—many of the programs the Church has produced over the years,” he pointed out. “It will help those of other faiths understand our strong moral and family values.”
While the new interfaith cable network is not now available for viewing in all areas of the United States, nationwide cable channel coverage is planned within a year.
During the initial period, programming will be carried from 1:00 to 6:00 P.M. (Eastern time) Monday through Friday, from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Saturdays, and from 6:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Sundays. Plans are being made to expand the schedule.
Latter-day Saint programs during the initial period will include “Love at Home,” appearing Tuesdays at 3:00 P.M. (Eastern) and repeated on Wednesdays at 5:30 P.M.; and “Worth of Souls,” appearing Fridays at 1:30 P.M. and repeated at 4:00 P.M. on Mondays.
“Love at Home” is a half-hour segment devoted to the subject of families and the challenges they face, and “Worth of Souls” includes dramatic presentations with broad appeal, according to Brother Lindsay.
Cable subscribers interested in VISN should check with their local cable systems for specific programming details.