David Bruce Murray picked up on this story first. I was going to offer my thoughts in the comments section, but figured I’d better just stick it on my own blog in case it ended up becoming a lengthy rant.
First, here’s the basics: The National Quartet Convention 2012 will be filmed by Trinity Broadcasting Network, which will use the footage to create original programming to be aired in 2012-2013.
I’ll be honest: my gut reaction when reading the story was, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
Before this goes any further, I just want to give full disclosure and say that I do watch TBN, but only when a Southern Gospel artist is featured, such as on an episode of Praise The Lord. Any other time, count me out.
I won’t deny that TBN is probably the largest Christian television network out there. Like them or not, they do reach quite a massive audience. My thoughts toward this partnership are complicated, partly because I can see the opportunity in distributing NQC to that amount of people, but I have reservations towards the reputation that TBN possesses.
One only needs to take a quick Google search on TBN to find that they have had quite a bit of controversy over the years, but I won’t get into specifics. I will only point out one criticism of the network that should be enough to have encouraged the NQC to distance themselves from them. TBN has an unofficial representation of being the “prosperity gospel” channel. With a heavy emphasis on programs featuring people such as Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Benny Hinn, among others, it’s no wonder that I’ve had discussions with both Christians and non-Christians that blow TBN off as nothing but a “religious hack channel.” That’s a direct quote from a friend who identifies themselves as Christian. Just think of what my non-religious friends have said.
Why is this move bad for NQC? Is it the quality of the programming? That might be an issue, but most likely not. The problem here is, whether intentionally or not, this may make it seem as if the NQC endorses what TBN is selling with the programs they show. Do we really want the biggest Southern Gospel event of the year to be associated with a network that has the reputation of promoting suspect theological beliefs? Why not go with a network like Daystar (arguably just as big, and not nearly as controversial), or INSP (same as Daystar)? If I’m not mistaken, the INSP relationship has happened before, but since they have phased into primarily what appears to be a cleaner TV Land, I can see why they would be passed over. I’m not going to claim to know what goes into the contracts and such for these types of things, but I would hope a strong effort would be made to get a deal with either of those before going with the current agreement.
While being shown on TBN may boost the NQC’s television audience and presence, will it affect the event/organization’s reputation? I welcome your thoughts.