“Conversation on Using the Church’s Audiovisual Materials,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 79
As members know from the high-quality audiovisual materials that reach them, the Church places a high priority on communicating its message via modern media systems. For an update about the Church’s efforts in this area, the Ensign spoke with Lyle E. Shamo, managing director of the Church’s Audiovisual Department.
Question: Audiovisual materials seem to be an important part of the Church’s work. Why?
Answer: Whether delivered in live or recorded form, audiovisual materials allow the leaders of the Church to communicate with many people in a very personal way. As the Church grows in membership and geographical reach, audiovisual materials and broadcasts help make Church leaders more accessible to members.
Consequently, in 1991 the Church formed an audiovisual department to bring together all the Church’s audiovisual efforts in areas such as missionary work, Church education and public affairs, and curriculum. The department also manages the audiovisual technology in temples and visitors’ centers and the satellite system of the Church, which now includes more than three thousand receiving stations throughout North America, Europe, and parts of Central America.
Q: How can members benefit from Church satellite broadcasts?
A: Live, in-person media opportunities to hear the words of the Brethren are becoming increasingly available. These include not just general conference, which is probably the Church’s most important audiovisual effort, but also firesides and training seminars for audiences ranging from priesthood and auxiliary members and leaders to young adults, missionaries, and Church Educational System students and teachers. It is hoped that members will value and attend these satellite broadcasts as if General Authorities or auxiliary leaders were coming to speak to them in person, because in a very real sense that is exactly what is happening.
Q: What about using Church audiovisual materials in the home?
A: Many of the Church’s audiovisual materials are designed as models of Christlike behavior to help strengthen family relationships and individual worthiness. Others are designed to teach viewers and listeners about Church history and doctrine, scriptural history, and the lives of modern-day prophets. Because much of what is available on television and radio and from video stores is not uplifting, members can use Church audio and video materials in their homes as an alternative to worldly forms of entertainment.
Many of the Church’s films have been packaged together on inexpensive videocassettes to make purchase, storage, and viewing more convenient. Audiocassettes of general conference proceedings and compact discs and audiocassettes of hymns, Primary songs, and other worshipful music are also available. For members who choose not to purchase their own personal copies, meetinghouse libraries are becoming a more widely recognized and available source for borrowing Church audiovisual materials.
Q: The Church provides many leadership-training videos. How are these intended to be used?
A: Leadership-training videos produced under the direction of Church leaders are intended to be used more than once. Leaders often study handbooks over and over again, but sometimes they forget that training videos are also sources of information and inspiration that should be viewed over and over. Leadership-training videos such as Continue to Minister may be shown periodically to remind ward and stake leadership councils and priesthood quorum presidencies of their duties and to strengthen them.
Q: What are other ways members can use Church audiovisual materials?
A: Audiovisual materials can be used effectively as missionary tools and by home teachers to help activate members. Watching Church films with or loaning copies to nonmember or less-active friends can be a significant door-opener and help them feel the Spirit. Audiovisual materials are a great and important teaching tool of the Church.