Christian TV network enters world of 24-hour news

Published 7:10 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.  — A Christian TV network is entering the crowded world of 24-hour news broadcasting at a time when the mainstream news media is under increasing attack by President Donald Trump and some of his supporters, many of them evangelicals.

The Christian Broadcasting Network’s news channel will provide a religious perspective that other channels lack, CEO Gordon Robertson told The Associated Press in an interview in advance of the network’s formal launch Monday.

The CBN News Channel, to air on local television stations in 15 U.S. cities, will produce original programming and commentary on everything from the power of prayer to Justin Bieber’s faith and Christian persecution in the Middle East, Robertson said last week.

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Robertson, son of evangelist Pat Robertson, said he wants the channel to bring people together. But it is making its debut in an increasingly fractured media landscape and divided nation. Trump sometimes uses evangelical outlets to reach supporters, while shunning other news outlets.

“Trump’s modus operandi is not essentially to reach out to new audiences, but to create division and polarization to energize his base,” said Mark Ward, an associate professor of communication at the University of Houston-Victoria, who writes about evangelical mass media.

“If that’s your strategy and evangelicals are such a huge part of your base, why would you not use the media organs that are available?” Ward said.