Several decades ago many Coptic families decided to emigrate, setting off a great exodus. Yet although they were scattered all over the world, they never forgot their Church, or its teachings and principles. However, their children grew up with limited information and experience about their parents’ roots. The Coptic Orthodox Church has decided to rectify this by launching a new Internet channel in seven languages to connect young Coptic Christians with their homeland.
The new channel has been launched through the new technology called IPTV (Internet Protocol TV), which broadcasts TV through the Internet, and which is expected to gradually replace the current dish and satellite technologies.
Watani met the head of the channel, Father Bishoi al-Antoni.
An audience of millions
“We are trying to connect the Coptic youth all over the world to their motherland, Egypt, and their mother church, the Coptic Orthodox Church. Our target audience are children and youth outside Egypt,” Father Bishoi told us. The IPTV allows programmes to be broadcast all over the world from its Cairo head office in Shubral-Kheima.
The channel has received strong support from Pope Shenouda III and Bishop Morqos of Shubral-Kheima, spokesperson of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
“A sermon only addresses a congregation, and with a book you can address thousands of readers, but through the media you have an audience of millions,” says Father Bishoi. “It engages all the audience’s senses, and it accesses the entire world.”
Owning a TV channel was the Coptic Orthodox Church’s dream. The first Christian channel in the Middle East was in fact Sat 7, but most of its programmes were not related to the Orthodox Church This started with Aghapi TV which was managed by Bishop Boutros and was followed with the launch of the independent CTV (Christian TV).”
Father Bishoi said the programmes presented by the channel would be similar to that of Aghapi TV and CTV in that they essentially cover Christian, ecclesiastical, and Coptic community matters, but with slight changes to make it more attractive to young people. For instance, the time of each programme will not exceed 15 minutes.
“The current work team is very small,” said Father Bishoi, “although we broadcast in seven languages”. Since such kind of media costs a lot, we sought the help of the young people, especially those who live abroad, in the production of some programmes in order to support the channel. And this is what makes that channel different, that it entirely depends on youth.
Father Bishoi explained that Christian Youth Channel was not launched in Arabic because there were already two channels addressing Middle Eastern and Arab congregations. “We are planning to have a new system that allows viewers who access the channel from Egypt to receive Arabic broadcasting, but if a viewer watches in Sweden he will receive it in Swedish, and so on.
“We have further ambitions to broadcast live programmes, and the audience will participate to offer constructive criticism of the channel,” he said. “We also aspire to gain everyone’s support, especially young people.”