Major Mideast Christian Satellite Channels to Merge

Two major Christian channels that broadcast into Muslim-dominated regions recently decided to merge, the executives of both ministries announced.

TURK-7, a Turkish Christian television ministry, will merge completely with the SAT-7 network by January 2010. The ministries, which have worked closely for years, believe the merger will help raise the level of Turk-7's broadcast while being more cost-effective by avoiding duplicating efforts and services.

"We have great expectations regarding TURK-7's potential to grow significantly once it becomes a fully-integrated member of our family," said SAT-7 founder and CEO Terence Ascott. "We want to help TURK-7 ramp-up its production capabilities, add more staff and acquire new equipment so they can increase their programming output."

SAT-7 has a viewership of between nine to ten million people each week from the Middle East and North Africa. Its annual budget was $13 million in 2008. The Christian satellite network is one of the founding members of TURK-7 and, since February 2006, has provided four hours of daily satellite airtime for the Turkish Christian channel.

"We at TURK-7 are excited about this merger," said TURK-7 executive director David Middleton. "We fully believe that SAT-7, with its similar ethos, its years of experience in Christian broadcasting and its significantly larger operational and support staff, will help raise us up to a higher level of broadcasting,"

In the future, SAT-7 said it would like to see TURK-7 have its own 24-hour channel.

"Over 70 million people live in Turkey. While only a tiny fraction of that population is Christian, TURK-7 has proven that it is supporting the local church and aiding Turkish Christians as they witness to Christ," SAT-7's Ascott said. "We want to help TURK-7 grow and maximize its ability to reach a much larger audience."

The details of the merger will be worked out in the coming months.