A recent decision by the American Christian Television System (ACTS) and the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network (VISN) to share a single channel has created one of the nation’s largest religious broadcast networks. Beginning October 1, the combined networks, called VISN/ACTS, will reach more than 20 million American cable television households.

But some affiliate stations of ACTS, which is owned by the Southern Baptist Radio-TV Commission (RTVC), say they are concerned that they are “getting in bed with the enemy,” as one put it, by collaborating with VISN. That network carries programming by Christian Scientists and Mormons, as well as by mainline Protestants, Jews, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox.

“I will pull the plug on ACTS, sell my TV equipment, and get off the air before I will have the programming of VISN and identify ourselves with these groups,” says ACTS affiliate Mark Brooks of Springfield, Arkansas. ACTS features productions from mainline denominations, as well as the Church of Christ and Seventh-day Adventists.

New Markets

Daniel Matthews, chair of the nonprofit National Interfaith Cable Coalition, which owns and operates VISN, says the partnership will create new opportunities. “This shared channel will bring together the 54 faith groups related to VISN with the largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists, to offer the widest scope of religious programming on a single channel.”

RTVC public-relations director Steve Gregory says the merger provides an opportunity to reach new markets.

Affiliate stations have also voiced concern that ACTS programming will be restricted by a clause that prohibits the maligning of any religious belief or faith group. However, Gregory told CHRISTIANITY TODAY that the prohibition ...

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