It had never been done before, but the medium was in its infancy, and it was worth a try. On January 1, 1955, then-Archbishop Richard J. Cushing stepped before an improvised altar in a television studio near Boston’s Kenmore Square. The Pontifical low mass that he celebrated that day attracted such favorable attention that the show’s producers, the Boston Catholic Television Center, were soon broadcasting independently over Channel 38, licensing their own call letters, WIHS, in 1964.
Just two years later, Storer Broadcasting acquired the fledgling network, adding cartoons and feature films to the lineup and changing the call letters to WSBK-TV. The proceeds of that transaction helped finance the 1968 birth of today’s Boston Catholic Television, and although the network changed its name to CatholicTV in 2006, it has continued to operate under its original call letters, BCTV.
The network now ranks as the world’s premier diocesan Catholic TV station. Based in Watertown, Mass., it broadcasts around the clock under the direction of Fr. Robert Reed, president of the CatholicTV Network. A recent affiliation with Comcast Corp. has strengthened its presence on cable TV, and the network augments this muscle with the offerings of its website, www.catholictv.com. It also provides an online community, icatholic.com, where the faithful can display personal photos and participate in the forums.
CatholicTV takes pride in tailoring its programming to a wide variety of viewers. Although their content covers a wide spectrum, each of the individual shows operates from a religious perspective.
Televised Masses and Devotional Programming
Many faithful viewers might find the televised masses to be the most meaningful programming found on CatholicTV. The station transmits daily from such diverse locations as the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the University of Notre Dame. It also televises bilingual Sunday masses from San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral.
One of CatholicTV’s devotional programs, “The Perpetual Help Novena,” broadcasts live from Boston three times a week. A similar show, “The Rosary,” airs on a daily basis and features video clips of Fr. Reed praying in various locations around the world.
CatholicTV’s Vatican Feed
Through an alliance with Vatican Television, CatholicTV is able to televise the Vatican’s major liturgical celebrations and transmit its daily news feed, “Octava Dies.” The network also features broadcasts of Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly general audience and in-depth coverage of his journeys.
CatholicTV for Youth
One of CatholicTV’s most popular programs, “WOW: The CatholicTV Challenge,” first aired on September 6, 2004 with the aim of teaching the tenets of the Catholic faith through the words of young children. The original program, “WOW,” imitated Art Linkletter’s child-interview show of the 1950s, with one difference: “WOW” featured children saying the deepest, not the “darndest,” things.
In 2007, “WOW” switched to a game-show format. Hosted by Nosey, the Know-it-All Dog, its contestants strive to answer questions based on a preselected religious theme of the day.
Other children’s programming includes “Adventures of Donkey Ollie,” “Gigi, God’s Little Princess” and “Mr. Henry’s Wild and Wacky Bible Stories.”
CatholicTV’s Musical Programming
For many people, nothing compares to the sound of religious music, and CatholicTV, in an effort to provide something for every viewer, offers a fair share of musical programming.
One of these shows, “The Commons,” spotlights contemporary Catholic music in a coffeehouse setting. Its artists intersperse performances with interviews in which they discuss their music, their inspiration and their faith.
On a classical note, “The Joy of Music” features the organ artistry of Diane Bish performing time-honored selections at various historic cathedrals around the world. The program also treats its viewers to scenic travelogues, interviews famous guests and shares tidbits about the area’s local traditions.
In an appeal to the younger generation, “Revolution” attempts to spread the Gospel News of Jesus Christ through Christian rock videos and interviews with popular artists and athletes.
Availability of CatholicTV
The CatholicTV Network is available today through Sky Angel Faith & Family TV, Roku, Comcast or Verizon FiOS in the following states:
– New Hampshire.
– Rhode Island.
– U.S. Virgin Islands.
It can also be viewed through digital C band satellite, AMC 11 and Internet streaming video at www.catholictv.com. Fans may also download selected programs at iTunes, and an app for iPhones and iPads is available as well.
CatholicTV is hopeful that the combination of programming diversity and easy accessibility will aid it in achieving its ultimate goal: connecting all people of faith.