FamilyNet to Extend Availability Through DISH Satellite Systems

Feb 10, 2003 02:29 PM EST

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - The North American Mission Board reorganizes current NAMB structures to make FamilyNet an independent entity. Such a move will qualify FamilyNet as a provider of non-commercial public-service programming for DISH Network. Trustees agreed Feb. 5 go retain the nonprofit status of the network, so FamilyNet programming could be placed in an additional 7 million households through the DISH Network direct broadcast satellite system.

Currently, FamilyNet is operated by the NAMB, and is available in about 8 million homes through cable outlets, local affiliate stations and some broadcast satellite systems. Under the new agreement, the feed will extend to 15 million. FamilyNet would continue to provide to the original outlets under commercial supports, but the new DISH network will run FamilyNet programming on a second non-commercial feed. Under such terms, FamilyNet's base of subscribers will place the network as one of "America's Top 50" programming package.

"We see this as a tremendous opportunity to further penetrate the culture with a balanced network of family friendly programming and some of the best biblical teaching available anywhere," said Singer, the NAMB Executive Vice President. "In addition, the new format on the DISH Network should allow opportunities to highlight SBC ministries through short one- or two-minute informative spots."

Such efforts to make FamilyNet a non-profit entity began last August when NAMB trustees voted against plans to make FamilyNet a for-profit entity. Singer said the new development - which could be in place within the next few months - might allow NAMB to pursue the primary goal of securing long time financial investors, without having to convert for profit.

"At the very least, we believe it now requires further study as to whether we should proceed with plans to convert even a portion of FamilyNet to for-profit [for example, the cable distribution system] or whether we can accomplish these goals now while remaining nonprofit."

The NAMB and Family will still continue to study how to best meet goals of expanding the impact of FamilyNet and still see a break-even point within three years. Until that point, the NAMB will subsidize FamilyNet through a series of loans amounting to $9 million over the next three years. The restructuring will strengthen the accountability of FamilyNet to NAMB and reaffirm NAMB's responsibility to appoint all trustees for Family Net, in providing a progression of quality, nature, and direction of FamilyNet programming.

The issue will be further discussed during the committee's upcoming February meeting.

Along with the approved reorganization, the trustees responded to five motions made from the Southern Baptist Convention, which is affiliated with the NAMB.

"These are things that have been handled in one way or another in prior meetings of our trustees, so the recommendations on each of them is to remain true to prior actions of the trustees," Singer said. "We believe the policies and procedures in each case are adequate to respond to these concerns."

The motions sought to revise the NAMB's policy regarding the endorsement of female chaplains, changes to the "Eternal Life" evangelism tract, evangelism strategies for reaching the disabled, and changes in a policy on affirmation of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement of Southern Baptist beliefs. New cooperative agreements with six state conventions: Alabama, Hawaii-Pacific, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota-Wisconsin and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, were approved as well.

Since the last NAMB meeting, 43 missionaries were appointed, and 29 chaplains have been endorsed by the board's Chaplains Commission.

By Pauline C.