FamilyNet Launches Network News; Will Cover SBC Meeting

( [email protected] ) Jun 05, 2004 11:38 AM EDT

A 24-hour television network owned and operated by the North American Mission Board has added a news department to enhance its ministry to family focused viewers. FamilyNet recently hired Lorri Allen as director of the FamilyNet news department and has since assembled a news team ready to televise reports of current events from a Christian perspective. Daily reports will kick off with coverage of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis June 15-16.

"FamilyNet News will be a blend of the day's headlines and stories that affect families," Allen said in a May 2 news release. "Most importantly, these newscasts will be safe for all ages to watch. We will not hesitate to air good news stories with happy endings."

Robert E. Reccord, president of NAMB, said he considers the worldview-programming announcement the most exciting in the network's history. It is based on a concept NAMB leaders began discussing about five years ago, when television and the culture at large had become increasingly values-neutral and secular.

"Our first decision was we wanted to do a major prime-time block of Christian worldview programming, because how you perceive and view reality makes all the difference in how you respond to reality," Reccord said.

FamilyNet's agreement with Fox News allows them to act as an affiliate, receiving about seven hours of video footage each day -- or 170,000 stories per year. FamilyNet then chooses the material of special interest to its audience, Allen said. Headline news, in-depth interviews, live shots and investigative reporting supported by the Fox NewsEdge feed and a national news wire service will be part of the FamilyNet News arm.

"Every news organization has its own voice based on the news it chooses to cover," Martin Coleman, FamilyNet's vice president of programming, said. "We will not ignore breaking news of the day; however, we will put an emphasis on stories that are family focused. We're not doing different news; we're doing news differently."

The first news broadcasts began May 5 within daily segments of "At Home -- Live" on FamilyNet, Allen said. Starting June 14, FamilyNet will implement the periodic 80-second news breaks into its regular programming, typically at the top of the hour Monday through Friday.

"We are so excited about being able to provide a faith-based, family focused newscast," Allen told Baptist Press. "Christians need to be well-informed of what's going on, and sometimes it's hard to sift through all the negative, bashing, biased news. So I hope that people will find it refreshing to be able to turn to FamilyNet for news they can trust."

FamilyNet will bring viewers daily coverage of the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis June 15-16, including key issues as well as interviews with leaders and messengers.

The network also is planning a prime-time series of worldview programs slated for a fall premier, the news release said. The one-hour programs will cover a variety of topics relevant to today's families, including politics and public policy, popular culture and law and justice. Janet Parshall, Jay Sekulow and Hugh Hewitt have already signed on to be part of the nightly shows.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, FamilyNet airs more than 50 hours of original, value-based programs