Catholic Church Launches TV Channel Blending Religious, Secular Programming

In the midst of a growing number of religiously founded television channels, the Uganda Episcopal Conference has made it clear that the public should not expect a channel similar to “TV Maria” as they unveil their own Uganda Catholic Television channel.

Bishop Joseph Franzelli, Chairman of the Social Communication Commission of the Conference and board chair of the new broadcaster, used the reference to “TV Maria” to convey that the newly launched station will not exclusively focus on religious content, unlike the well-known Catholic radio station, Radio Maria.

While the primary purpose of the television station is to serve as a means of evangelization, Franzelli emphasized that the conference aims to provide a unique and inclusive viewing experience for all Ugandans. This will be achieved by combining religious and secular programming in a manner that particularly appeals to the younger generation.

Bishop Franzelli made these statements during the official launch of the television station at Nsambya on Monday evening. He stressed that the TV project will operate with a commercial approach, seeking to generate revenue, but its primary objective will not be profit-making.

UCTV enters a television landscape that is predominantly populated by religiously founded channels.

Notably, there are already television stations established by Muslims, Anglicans, SDAs, and various prominent pastors in Kampala. The Bishop also acknowledged that there were individuals who raised concerns about the allocation of funds for this project during its establishment. Some questioned why the church did not utilize those resources to build more schools or hospitals instead.

In response, the Bishop emphasized that the church can no longer overlook the importance of communication tools in today’s society. He implied that leveraging media platforms, such as television, is crucial for effective outreach and connecting with a wider audience.

Rev Fr Philip Odii, the project manager, expressed that the station aims to establish a closer connection with its viewers by conducting interviews that address their social, developmental, and other needs.

To achieve this, the station’s main studio, situated at the Catholic Secretariat in Nsambya, will be supported by sub-stations spread across Mbarara, Tororo, Gulu, and Lira. These sub-stations will gather local content from various regions throughout the country.

Odii added that the station has also obtained exclusive rights from international Catholic broadcasters, including Vatican Media, to broadcast events involving the Pope. During the launch, Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister responsible for ICT and the chief guest, commended the Catholic Church for its initiative.

He expressed his strong belief that the channel will bring immense value to Uganda by offering programming that adheres to the necessary standards. Baryomunsi voiced concerns about the inadequate broadcasting standards of several stations, including those with religious affiliations.

He stated, “We have not encountered any issues with any of the media houses founded by the Catholic Church, and I am confident that UCTV will also maintain high standards.”

The idea to establish UCTV was conceived in 2018, and it officially began broadcasting in 2020. However, due to financial constraints and other factors, the channel did not commence regular programming and has been testing its signal on free-to-air broadcasting primarily in the Kampala area.

Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa, the UEC chairperson, highlighted that the channel’s establishment became possible through funds collected from faithful members and donations, with notable contributions from the bishops of Italy who generously supported the acquisition of essential equipment and other sources.

During the recent Martyrs Day celebration on June 3, the church announced the exciting news of UCTV’s expansion. The station will soon be launching on multiple pay-tv carriers, enabling it to reach a broader audience beyond the free-to-air broadcasting platforms.

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