With many of its 25 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa facing income loss, health risks and life under lockdown, SAT-7 is providing a raft of specially targeted programmes and online content to support viewers’ mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Existing and many new shows from the well-trusted Christian TV network are addressing the issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Encompassing both adult and children’s output, they have become a one-stop shop for families needing practical support and missing the benefits of worship and fellowship in their churches.
“SAT-7 always looks to serve viewers in whatever challenges they face,” said SAT-7 UK CEO Rachel Fadipe. “It happens that this time, rather than a crisis in the Middle East, this is one that affects us all. Our channels have responded with speed and creativity by launching specially focused programmes that sit alongside pastorally sensitive church services, talk shows and teaching programmes. Together, they are enabling viewers to take wise precautions and remain confident in God’s love.”
You Are Not Alone is one of many new shows. Produced in Lebanon, it offers spiritual encouragement and solidarity to viewers experiencing loneliness, anxiety and grief. Broadcasting three times a week, You Are Not Alone shares uplifting stories of hope and “helpers”, mental health advice and a devotion to help viewers fix their eyes on Jesus. As a live, interactive programme, it also offers viewers an opportunity to pray.
New, short awareness and prevention programmes, including Expert Advice and health programme Dr Bee are supplementing the network’s Arabic-language education stream, SAT-7 ACADEMY. These shorts are shared on social media as well as on SAT-7 ARABIC, allowing viewers to pass them on to friends. And for the daily workout, in Fitness Craze Physical Education teacher Magdoline Nader shows how to exercise at home using everyday items as fitness props.
Children who could find the current situation frightening are being reassured by SAT-7’s many children’s shows that offer friendship, faith and the encouragement to be role models at home. Two of SAT-7 KIDS’ most popular presenters from long-running past shows have also returned to film special series from their homes, showing how they are living and keeping their faith strong during the lockdown.
For children who are now home-schooling the flagship My School programmes that cover core subjects in the primary curriculum have become more valuable than ever. These are also being supplemented by live tutorials from the teachers on Facebook. On YouTube, the extensive range of SAT-7 ACADEMY education and child rights programmes available have also been grouped for NGOs to access while supporting refugees and other vulnerable groups during the pandemic.
Cooped-up families who face new pressures under isolation are being helped by programmes such as the popular parenting show The Coach, hosted by Egyptian child psychologist Dr Ihab Maged.
Talk shows are also tackling the spike in domestic violence and marital tensions. In the latest episode of SAT-7 TŰRK women’s show Homemade Meltem Aslan, a specialist in family law, told host Semsa Bakir, “We are spending more time together than ever during a very difficult time.” She urged viewers not to think that lashing out at a partner or children will bring back a lost job, salary or health and advised women on practical steps they can take if a situation becomes abusive.
In Lebanese relationships show From Heart to Heart, the show’s guest, counsellor Jessy Tohme spoke of the pandemic as a “storm that exposes the foundations of relationships”.
“People are losing control,” she said, but, freed from other time pressures, “now is the time to strengthen your marriage, get to know your partner better, and address problems that were ignored.” As for their children, Tohme said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make memories with our children.”