In front of the development of media and the special role of TV, what is the postition of the christian community in Pakistan?
The Catholic Church in Pakistan seems to be finally waking up to television challenges. For a long time we had mostly printed materials. Print media, gives, as Redemptoris Missio (No. 34) says, an ad intra media power. These can help the Church educate her faithful as well as help them deepen their faith. But if the Church wants to let the public know what she really does and stands for, such media would be of little help.
We need to use TV for evangelization, education and formation: we wish to use television as a means for the advancement of the Kingdom of Jesus our Lord. Through it we wish to reach every corner of the globe. In Pakistan even in the poorest localities, the most undeveloped of villages where there is no running water or modern amenities, and where schools are ill-equipped and families in poverty, there you find television!
For years, in the Catholic Church in Pakistan journalism remained mainly within the purview of the print media. We have been very slow to catch up with the electronic media in general and television journalism in particular. All this is changing now, of course. The Archdiocese of Karachi has been exploring the ideas to use electronic media for evangelization, education and formation. Ventures like having the Web Edition of Archdiocesan Urdu weekly called Agahi and Web based TV – Good News Catholic TV is the direct result of his efforts. Now the uphill struggle to have a Satellite TV channel has seen the light.
Of course, in our country it is a difficult at times rather impossible task. However, we never gave up hope. We went everywhere, knocked every door, fulfilled all the reqiiuremts and above all convinced the government that we are seeking licence not first as Christians but as Pakistanis. It took over three years and slowly we stared to see rays of light. Although among us no one had formal education but we continued to learn through various sources and resources. We also got on our side people of good will and this made a great difference. A day came when we could officially start ‘Test Transmission’ of Good News. It is making a great impression of the viewers.
Financial implications remain a big question. It is true that for this enterprise we did not have a sprat budget. However, Archbishop Evarist Pinto, the priests and faithful supported fully and by every means. Some institutes offered financial support on soft terms. Help is also sort from different funding agencies. We are hopeful that we will receive positive answer. Since, everything was worked out – and time was very opportune – we did not delay and grabbed the opportunity.
The broadcast is aired nationally via cable, as well as in other parts of Asia, Africa, Oceania and Europe seven days a week, 24 hours a day and will feature a modern format with an open dialogue focused on the message of Jesus Christ in the 21st Century, especially as it is lived in today’s world. Holy Mass, Recitation of the Rosary, Lives the Saints, Scripture Readings, contemporary talks, headline stories of current events, politics, music, entertainment, arts and sports have their slots. The Channel will also include human interest stories and inspirational themes, shows offering counselling and guidance, educational programmes and more.
Good News TV will place a special emphasis on values and will show programmes which cannot be seen on other TV channels. Programme hosts and guests will include members of the clergy and distinguished laity, members of civil society and reputed media personalities. A team of anchor people will host the programmes, which has segments devoted to research-and-knowledge-based news and what we call ‘Good News.’
The aims and objective of this venture are very clear: Good News TV will be able to dispel misunderstanding about Christians, the Christian faith and will create a much more positive climate for Christians in Pakistan; its programmes will never attack other religions instead they will enhance peace, harmony, justice, brotherhood and tolerance; it will provide systematic and sound teaching of the Church for all age groups and will also provide especial programmes for children.
Good News TV is going to combine great teaching of Jesus Christ with powerful testimonies, effective social plays, interviews, and the reality of Christian service in its various forms. Our staff is composed by people not only with professional training and the necessary and technical skills, but also with the desire to serve Christ in this mission.
Good News TV is totally depending on the Divine Providence and invites everyone to become a stakeholder in this project.