The Catholic Church will have an exciting new television presence from March 1, with the launch of Australian Catholic Church Television on a new Foxtel Digital and Austar Digital community channel.
Aurora TV is a new community channel available on the basic package of Foxtel and Austar.
It will go out on Channel 183 and provides for faith-based groups, not-for-profit social service companies and non-Government organisations to have a voice on Australian TV.
Dr Richard Leonard SJ, Jesuit priest and director of Catholic Church Television Australia (CCTVA) said the Catholic Church was approached to be involved.
“For many years now the Church has had little direct presence on Australian television and so the Bishops Committee for the Media seized the opportunity to have access to an increasingly important television outlet where we can put to air programmes from which we think the Catholic and wider community will benefit,” Dr Leonard said.
Foxtel will broadcast the Aurora Community channel free of charge, but CCTVA must pay for the acquisition and production of programmes, and the number of hours they are on air.
“Unlike running an entire channel, the costs and the associated risks in this venture are smaller for the Church,” Dr Leonard said.
“The amount of time we are on the air will only be limited by the money we can raise for sponsorship, programming and buying on-air time.”
Aurora has made only two demands on participating organisations: their programmes cannot vilify anyone, and they must be of the highest production values. Other groups taking part in Aurora include the Salvation Army, Anglican Media, Mission Australia, UNICEF, Red Cross, UNHCR, Australian Asian Youth Centre, Plan International, the Australian Film Radio and Television School and Swinburne Film School.
Initially, CCTVA will broadcast Mass three times a week on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday at 10am, as well as putting to air Australian documentary films that focus on the liturgical season, a feast day, or a national observance.
“We want CCTVA to be of service to Catholics throughout Australia, as well as getting our message out to the people who up to this point don’t come near the Church,” Dr Leonard said.
Foxtel and Austar Digital presently reach 750,000 homes, but with the phasing in of an inclusive digital service in the next few years, that number will climb to 2.25 million homes, with a projected reach of nearly 7 million Australians.
“That’s the sort of marketplace where the Church should have a voice,” he said.
Released by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference