Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 13, 2004
You can beam in Salt and Light TV
Canada's Catholic television network is now available in Alberta
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Salt and Light Television, Canada's Catholic television network, is now available across the country and Father Thomas Rosica wants to get the word out - so he can get the Word out.
"I hope that within four or five years, this will be recognized as a very important tool of evangelization and communication of the message of the Gospel," says Rosica, Salt and Light Television's chief executive officer.
The 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week digital network is now on Bell ExpressVu, and by Dec. 15, it will be available to Cogeco subscribers. It's already on Rogers Digital Cable and Videotron Digital Cable.
Printing magnate's dream
Salt and Light Television is the dream of 87-year old printing magnate Gaetano Gagliano, founder of St. Joseph's Corporation, the largest private printing, publishing and digital communications company in Canada.
Gagliano had tried for years to found a TV network with the support of the Church, but with no success.
He went to the CRTC and obtained a licence. In November 2002, the Gagliano family approached Rosica who was finishing his four-year assignment as the national director and chief executive officer of World Youth Day 2002.
"I was looking forward to a nice break," Rosica says. He was winding down the massive project and preparing to teach at the University of Windsor.
"After a significant amount of Italian arm twisting," according to Rosica, the Gagliano family asked him to assume the presidency.
Rosica was reluctant at first, but he says people in the Vatican "from the top down" encouraged him, as did many Canadian bishops. Then, because he is a Basilian Father, he asked his religious community for advice.
"I really expected them to say no, which would have been fine with me," he says. Instead, Rosica was told, "We believe that this is the work of evangelization, it's extremely creative. You're a teacher. You're a professor of Scripture. Use it for that."
With a $5-million founding grant from the Gagliano family, Salt and Light began with a staff of four. The network now has about 25 employees and produces nine original programs. The Gaglianos have pumped an additional $5 million into the project.
Salt and Light TV now offers movies, a cooking show, and programs from the Vatican. In December, Rosica will fly to France to finalize a deal with French Catholic Television to augment the Salt and Light's French programming. In addition to French and English, Salt and Light also has programs in Spanish, Italian, Polish and German.
Rosica says the Canadian network has learned from the experience of Mother Angelica's EWTN network in the United States, and is not in competition with it. In fact, he has tried to get the cable and satellite companies to put the two stations' channels close together.
EWTN has already run some Canadian-produced programs, including a documentary about St. Gianna Molla.
"We have material geared more towards young people, more material geared towards Catholic popular music," Rosica says, noting that Canada needed a unique expression to reflect the Church in Canada, and its French and English and native cultures.
"We do not fudge on the teachings of the Church by any means, but we try to present it in very comprehensive, alive and creative way," he says.
The Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women's League have made grassroots support of Salt and Light a priority. Rosica and his team are also in the process of seeking corporate funding. Soon, a public relations campaign will start to get the news out about the availability of the service.
If you have access to Bell ExpressVu's Nirniq 2 Satellite, you can immediately start viewing Salt and Light on Channel 654 free of charge until Jan. 21. You can subscribe by calling 1- 888- 759-3474 or by visiting their website www.bell.ca.
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