Bishops' TV to challenge 'banal' broadcasts
BY BITUCE JOHNSTON IN ROME
'Tux's first television channel run by the Curia and devoted to topics of the Church was launched on Monday with the evening news,
"Good evening," announced newsreader Monica Di Loreto. "There are 690
days until the Millennium, and today the great adventure of Sat 2000 [the name of the channel] gets under way"
Dubbed "la TV dei vescovi" (bishops' television), Sat 2000 broadcasts from 10am to midnight every day. A satellite dish is needed to pick up the transmissions.
"Dear me," Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's Vicar of Rome and head of the Italian Bishops' Conference, said on Monday in an Italian state network interview. "To talk of a bishops' television is stretching it a bit. However, it is true that behind the enterprise... there is the Italian Bishops' Conference."
Cardinal Ruini said the aim of the channel was "certainly not to provide any competition" to what is already broadcast in Italy, but "to concentrate on matters which the Church tends to concern itself with".
The initiative, which is supposed to be mainly "thematic", will be largely based on the experience of the Bishops' Conference already gained in the field of print journalism.
One commentator said the main challenge the channel faces was that of how to square the circle between the "intrinsic banality of television" and the word of God.
Mgr Cosmo Ruppi, Archbishop of Lecce and member of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications, described the advent of the station as "a gift of the Madonna of Lourdes to Italy".
He said: "As a simple viewer I can express my congratulations over an initiative that is a breath of fresh air.
"I am sure it will produce big results in the formation of a Christian conscience and a new Catholic presence in Italy.
"The most impressive thing is the news, a programme which does not run after the news, but helps one to reflect on what is happening. There couldn't have been a better start."
The success of the channel may well determine whether a commercial Catholic television channel is launched in the UK.