Christian, family television station begins broadcasts
By Marty Russell
For those who have complained about the lack of Christian and family programming on television, a new network is available that delivers both and you don’t need cable to tune it in, at least not if you live in Lee and some surrounding counties.
WTVA, the NBC television affiliate in Tupelo, has launched a new, low-power broadcast service transmitting programming from the FamilyNet network on UHF channels 45 in the Tupelo area and 43 in Columbus.
The network, which originates out of Fort Worth, Texas, and the radio and television services of the Southern Baptist Convention, carries a variety of programs all with a Christian or family theme.
“It’s 24 hours a day,” said Mark Ledbetter, general manager of WTVA. “You have an exercise program at 6 a.m. from a Christian perspective, and in the afternoons there’s some great programming for kids from a Christian perspective.”
Prime time is devoted to vintage programs such as “Ozzie and Harriet” and talk shows devoted to Christian and family issues. There is also music programming and movies with a family theme. Weekends feature a variety of “how-to” programming, ranging from gardening to fishing.
Ledbetter said the decision to go with the family format grew directly out of the controversy over ABC’s “NYPD Blue” program a few years back that showed a market existed for a family alternative.
“Back when the ‘NYPD’ controversy was going on we decided not to air it,” he said. “We had a number of folks, such a number, asking us not to air it that I thought there was some people who could be served by programming that better met their needs and gave them an alternative.”
FamilyNet is a commercial network that carries advertising, and Ledbetter said he eventually hopes to add some local programming.
“We expect to provide an opportunity for local area churches to participate and make available broadcasts of their services,” he said.
While tuning in FamilyNet’s signal won’t cost you anything, it may be a little difficult to find. Since it is a UHF broadcast, your television will need a UHF antenna, usually a small wire loop that attaches to the UHF antenna input leads on the TV. The antennas can be purchased at most electronics or appliance outlets. An adapter may be required if the TV has no UHF antenna input.
Cable-ready television sets already connected to cable may also have to be switched from the “cable” setting to “standard” or the equivalent before the signal can be received.
Because the signal is a low-power transmission, it doesn’t carry far. Ledbetter said, since the station has only been on the air for a short time, he has yet to determine just how far the signal reaches.
“I’ve heard from people from as far away as southeast Itawamba County,” he said. “And I’ve had several reports from north Lee County. I think it’ll cover all of Lee County and reach into some of the adjacent counties.”