On Saturday, 31 May, SAT-7 celebrates a phenomenal 18 years of Christian broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa. In 1996, SAT-7 began broadcasting just two hours a week from a rented studio in Beirut. Today, SAT-7 broadcasts 800 hours a week of programming for over15 million viewers from Morocco to Afghanistan! The network broadcasts 24/7 in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish languages to the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and North America.
SAT-7 CEO Dr. Terence Ascott looks back on the life of the ministry: “Each anniversary causes me to reflect on the way God has led us since we started with a two-hour-per-week broadcast. Then, we had 6 staff…and today we have 170 staff worldwide from 22 nations! This growth is beyond the wildest dreams we had in 1996! We PRAISE GOD for all His blessings, and for bringing into the ministry the national staff and financial support to make this a reality.”
Studio staff and independent producers of SAT-7 programmes are Christians from countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. This keeps the network in touch with the needs and cultural sensitivities of its audiences. SAT-7 programmes give the region’s Christians a mass media presence to speak to their own societies.
The first SAT-7 children’s programe to air, titled Asanabel (Arabic for Ears of Wheat), was hosted by Lebanese TV personality Rita Elmounayer (pictured right). Today, Rita is the Executive Director of SAT-7’s Arabic channels. Rita has recently met viewers who have grown up watching SAT-7 since the nineties. One man still has a Bible that SAT-7 sent him in 1997. He says, “This Bible stayed with me because I didn’t have any other way of obtaining a Bible.”
Encouraging developments over the past year have shaped future goals for SAT-7. The network aired church services from the beleaguered cities of Baghdad, Iraq and Damascus, Syria (pictured left). It also increased its programmes from countries with sparse Christian populations, such as Turkey and Algeria. In the coming years, Dr. Ascott aims to add programs in more dialects. The network also purposes to strengthen the Audience Relations strategies that handle hundreds of thousands of responses each year from viewers. In response to a thousand-fold rise in its YouTube views, SAT-7 will further promote apps for mobile devices and live Internet streaming. These goals reinforce the ethos of SAT-7- to serve all the churches in the Middle East and North Africa and present a united witness to a divided region.