Adventist Record, with Adventist Review staff, South Pacific
Seventh-day Adventist congregations across New Zealand gathered to watch the debut of the local affiliate of church-owned Hope Channel on free-to-air television.
Hope Channel New Zealand, as it is known, had been broadcasting via satellite on Freeview Satellite since September 2015. As of April 30, its broadcast was extended to the free-to-air platform.
“This means every home in New Zealand with a television can now watch the channel for free,” said Paul Hopson, coordinator of Hope Channel NZ.
Although the Freeview Satellite signal covers the entire country of 4.5 million people, not many have satellite dishes.
“What was especially concerning was that we were not getting into many of the homes in the larger cities of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch,” said Brad Kemp, president of the Adventist Church’s New Zealand Pacific Union Conference. “This meant that almost 2 million people were not able to tune into Hope Channel.”
Auckland has a population of 1.4 million, and Wellington has close to 400,000 people.
From the start, the goal had been to reach every New Zealand home, Kemp said. It was just a matter of finding the funding to make it happen. A grant from the church’s South Pacific Division helped make this goal possible.
“All our larger cities will now have Hope Channel in every home,” Kemp said.
Reached by e-mail, executives at Hope Channel International, which oversees the global network of Hope channels, could not immediately say how many countries receive free-to-air coverage.
In New Zealand, the Hastings Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated the launch by assembling in the church hall to watch the “Re-Launch” program on its big-screen television. Four full-time Hope Channel employees as well as two part-timers were present, including the people who filmed and edited the program.
“It is such a blessing to have Hope Channel New Zealand being broadcast into every home in our district,” said pastor Hugh Heenan. “Imagine the possibilities we now have to make a huge difference in our community.”
A station ID spot for Hope Channel New Zealand. (Hope Channel NZ)