The Seventh-day Adventist Church will launch its first round-the-clock television channel for the French-speaking world thanks to an ambitious plan by its Inter-American Division to start three new satellite channels.
The three new channels — Hope Channel Français, Hope Channel Américas, and Hope Channel Caribbean — are expected to launch later this year in the three major languages spoken in the Inter-American Division: French, Spanish, and English.
Hope Channel Français, however, will reach far beyond the French-speaking regions of the division because of collaboration between the Inter-European Division, the Adventist Church in Canada, and the French Antilles Guiana Union.
“This is not something the IAD is doing for you: It is something we are doing together,” Leon B. Wellington, general director of the three new channels and the division’s communication director, told an advisory meeting in Miami. IAD is the acronym for the Inter-American Division.
The division’s top administrative body voted to establish the three new channels at its year-end business meeting in November, and the advisory meeting of more than 60 communication leaders and media production specialists last week discussed the details of which geographic areas would provide programming, promotion, and technical assistance for the channels.
Hope Channel president Brad Thorp said that developing programming to fill airtime would be the first step before launching the three channels. Usually a channel needs to have a library of at least 1,000 30-minute programs and the capability to produce additional content before it can launch, he said.
The new channels will rely in part on the division’s 18 media centers for content, said Abel Marquez, manager of operations for the three new channels and deputy communication director for the division. Two of the production facilities, the Montemorelos media center and the Inter-Oceanic Mexican media center, both based in Mexico, have provided Spanish-language programming for Hope Channel’s Esperanza TV for years.
Church leaders are particularly excited about the potential of Hope Channel Français to reach the French-speaking world.
“We have seven divisions in the world where French is spoken, and this collaboration would be most fruitful even with the cultural diversity,” said Corrado Cozzi, communication director for the Inter-European Division, which includes French-speaking populations in France, Belgium, and Switzerland.
He said his division could contribute from its library of 500 programs and noted that a new studio was being built in Paris to produce more programming.
Thelor Lambert, communication director for the French Antilles Guiana Union, said his union was eager to collaborate with Hope Channel Francais and could share its library of 224 programs. The French Antilles Guiana Union currently broadcasts four hours a day online and soon intends to increase airtime to six hours.
In Canada, only four regular online programs are being produced, not enough to sustain a channel, so teaming up with Hope Channel Français to create a 24-hour channel would be a dream come true, said Daniel Stojanovic, vice president of the church in Canada.
“In Quebec we have not been able to run a channel by ourselves, so this collaboration will make it possible to reach 12 million French-speaking people in Canada and the United States,” he said.
The exact launch date for the channels has not been set, and some financing is still being sorted out. Many of the media centers in the Inter-American Division need new sets as well as additional staff and equipment, said Wellington, the communication director.
“It’s a step of faith,” he said. “We are not only depending on our church organizations but members and friends of good will who are similarly interested in advancing the kingdom of God and can join us with their skills and finances.”
But he said there was no looking back because television was an effective way to share biblical truths to a technologically savvy but skeptical viewership.
People “may not wish to meet in an auditorium or tent as generations in the past,” he said.