When leaders of Redwood Chapel Community Church in Castro Valley, California, began looking into television as a means of outreach, they found the way blocked. Time—both on a sustaining and on a paid basis—was unavailable on any San Francisco Bay area station, and the cost of owning and operating a commercial broadcast station was prohibitive.

Today, two years later, Redwood Chapel is on the air—or, more accurately, on the wire—via cable television. The church, which averages more than 1,000 for Sunday-morning services, now operates channel 12b on a local cable system. It provides up to five hours of live or taped programming daily; a “message board” giving telephone numbers for those needing counsel is telecast the rest of the time. Total initial investment: $40,000.

And the story is being repeated elsewhere. Already, churches and lay groups in Seattle, in Lubbock, Abilene, and El Paso, Texas, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in Peoria, Illinois, in New York City, and in other centers around the country are transmitting telecasts on their own cable channel outlets.

Cable television—known formally as Community Antenna Television (CATV)—brings television into homes by means of a coaxial cable similar to that used by the telephone company. Powerful antennas placed on high points of land or tall structures draw in the broadcast signals of weak or distant stations. These signals are strengthened and clarified before being transmitted to subscriber homes (advantages for subscribers: much clearer signals, particularly for color set owners, and a wider choice of programming because of the larger number of channels available). Other programs originate in the cable system studio itself, usually videotapes or films (whether produced locally ...

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