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CHRISTIAN TV CHANNELS THRIVING: The Word Network and Gospel Music Channel Join TBN, CBN to Bring Christian Programming to Millions.

April 9, 2007 by  
Filed under Religion

( Ten years ago TBN, CBN and BET (Bobby Jones Gospel) dominated national Christian television programming. With the exception of limited programs airing on network TV, these channels were the primary choices for those looking for Christian TV shows.

But a lot has changed.

While these Christian networks are thriving and BET continues to draw huge audiences to its Gospel programs, including its annual Gospel Celebration show, two cable channels have carved a niche for themselves.

The Word Network has become the TV home of urban ministries. The 24-hour cable channel airs the Christian teachings of well and lesser-known pastors alike. TD Jakes, Paula White and Juanita Bynum have daily half hour shows on the network. In addition, a national audience has been introduced to pastors I.V. Hilliard, Zachary Tims and Michael A. Freeman, among others.

The Word Network, based in Southfield, Michigan, also fills programming hours with spirited Gospel specials such as concerts, Christian comedy and behind the scene shows.

Another 24-hour cable channel, The Gospel Music Channel (GMC), is available to those seeking Christian and Gospel music programming. GMC is thriving in spite of a recent setback. In March, DirecTV dropped its channel in 10 major U.S. markets. In support of the channel, Gospel singer Kirk Franklin wrote an open letter urging Christians to contact DirecTV to protest their decision to drop GMC in those markets.

Despite the DirecTV debacle, last month the Atlanta-based company announced that it is now seen in more than 100 markets around the country, representing more than 3,000 cities and towns. According to the announcement, the network added one million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2006.

GMC recently partnered with EMI Gospel to produce “Live: The Clark Sisters – Live One Last Time,” a farewell concert by the legendary Clark Sisters. The Clark Sisters performed songs from their new CD “Live One Last Time.” The show airs this month.

With the addition of these two channels and others to follow, Christians are beginning to have the programming choices that mainstream television viewers enjoy.

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