The schedule for the first year will be limited to two hours on Fridays, when many of the region's 360 million inhabitants are in mosques. The Christian population is less than 5 percent of the Middle East. Initially, SAT-7 is airing a magazine-format show with segments including animation, teaching, and drama, followed by a movie from organizations such as World Wide Pictures.

The schedule is expected to expand to two hours per day next year and around-the-clock by the end of the decade, tailored for Arabic-, Farsi-, Kurdish-, and Turkish-speaking audiences.

More than 90 percent of the population in the area own a television. A majority of the population is illiterate. Most are expected to have access to satellite programming by 2000. Satellite sales took off as a result of the Persian Gulf War.

Twenty-five Christian agencies, primarily from evangelical organizations and churches in Europe, have made contributions toward the start-up costs of SAT-7. The effort has a projected first-year budget of $2.75 million and $7.1 million next year. An independent board of directors, composed primarily of Middle Eastern Christians from various denominations, will make decisions on the content and placement of programs.

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