Interview: Robert A. Schuller on TV Partnership, Crystal Cathedral Problems

ComStar Chairman Dr. Robert A. Schuller, mostly known for being the only son of Crystal Cathedral founding Pastor Robert H. Schuller, talked with The Christian Post on Monday about the recent partnership between Canadian TV network Crossroads/CTS and U.S.-based ComStar Media. He also commented about the recent problems of Crystal Cathedral, including the church's bankruptcy filing and financial woes.

The following are excerpts from the interview.

CP: How is your new partnership with the Canadian TV Network doing?

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Schuller: It's going great, thank you. Crossroads Media had an intricate part with ComStar Media for years. It started with me being interviewed on 100 Huntley Street years ago. It continued with my son working with them in the world's fair in Hannover, Germany about ten years ago. We had similar visions and goals for years. Our two companies have a shared vision for distributing and creating family-friendly, faith-based material to give families enhanced options for positive Christian media.

CP: What is your new role in Comstar as chairman and the "face" of Family Net?

Schuller: My responsibility is to make sure that the content and the material fulfills our goals for our mission of always having material and content that's going to be family friendly. That you're not going to be embarrassed when you sit down and watch it with your children and grandchildren and watch something that's not going to be offensive or insulting to your intelligence, to your Christianity, and to your family values.

CP: What is the most popular show at the moment?

Schuller: Our R to G movies are very popular at the moment. After many years of researching and developing, we signed a contract to be able to acquire movies edited by the studio from an R [rating] to a G [rating]. These are wonderful movies that are very entertaining.

What was an R-rated movie now it's a G movie. The studio made them for us. These are absolutely wonderful. People can set their DVRs and record them and enjoy them any time with their family. You can't rent them in any other fashion like that. There is no other way to get them except through our network.

The problem is that you have movies that have a wonderful message but have content that is not appropriate for the family and when it is edited by the studio to a G [rating], all of the sudden you have this wonderful movie with a wonderful message that no longer has offensive language or inappropriate scenes and other things of that nature. There is never any blood shown, ever, you don't see somebody die. If there is somebody who gets kill, like a gunshot, then you just see them get shot on the ground, but there is no blood. You will only see them fall down. It gets the point across in a manner that will not be offensive or difficult to children.

CP: What's are some of the movies?
Schuller: We have a list of them and they are not your latest movies that have come out because our budget doesn't allow us to have the latest movies. Eventually we will. They are wonderful titles. They are movies that people want to see and that people are really excited about.

[List of the current R2G program: "Bye, Bye Love," "Eyewitness," "For the Boys," "How I Got into College," "Joshua Then and Now," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Sicilian," "The Star Chamber," and "The Worth Winning."]

CP: You say you are a faith-based network, does that mean you don't offer options for the secular audience?

Schuller: We reach the secular audience as well because we are faith and family, so we focus on material that support the Christian church and support the Christian family. But we don't limit it to just Christian programming. Most of the Christian networks have just talk shows and preachers and we have some preachers on Sunday morning and that's about it. The rest of our times is spent on family-friendly programming that is spiritual, entertaining and enhances our understanding of our Christian faith and not undermining our faith. That's where we come from.

CP: How are you reaching teenagers? Are they the hardest to reach?

Schuller: We are reaching teenagers. We will do a better job when we launch our new platform of the whole integration between television and internet. We look forward to that because teenagers are much more interested in YouTube and the like and social networking . When we rebrand our network we will be able to do some of those things.

CP: How different is working with ComStar as opposed to Crystal Cathedral? Do you enjoy it more?

Schuller: I miss being the senior pastor of Crystal Cathedral. I had a tremendous ministry there reaching millions of people every week. I was preaching to nearly 20 million people worldwide every Sunday and while I was there we were able to operate in the black and actually expand. Since I have left it has been very sad for me to see what has been happening and to witness the current circumstances of the cathedral.

At the same time, working with ComStar has been a new endeavor, challenging and rewarding in many ways to be able to still participate and share in a different way how the gospel can impact the lives of people.

CP: What are your views on the situation with Crystal Cathedral?

Schuller: It's very sad for me to watch what's going on with Crystal Cathedral. When I was there we were able to pay our bills, we were able to expand the ministry, and we received in a very positive and constructive way. What I do know about the Cathedral, which is very little, is that they currently have serious financial difficulties and I think it has all taken place in the last year since I left. It's really sad for me to see that take place. But my father had a specific thing that he wanted to do by having different pastors every week and unfortunately I don't think that worked out very well for him and my sisters.

CP: How is your family taking it?

Schuller: I can't tell you how their emotions are other than that I'm sure they are sad that it is where it is. But that's really all I can answer to that unfortunately. We need to pray for that.

CP: Is there anything new you are doing with Comstar that the public doesn't know about?

Schuller: We have many new things we are doing with ComStar Media. The most exciting thing is like I said, R to G movies, and we are continuing to do that. We are continuing to expand our Family Net, that's exciting for us. We are going to have our platform link with the internet soon.

CP: Any further comments?

Schuller: I want everyone to know about ComStar Media and Family Net. We are here to be able to provide faith and family programming in a positive way. The other thing we have done just recently is we were the first faith and family program to broadcast in HD. We are very proud of that. It's exciting because it will reach another audience.

We are a high-tech nation and we want to be a high-tech company. We want to stay in touch with the current technology.

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