Christian Media

Should TV Stations and Networks Re-run Telethons?

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen more and more religious TV stations and networks re-running their fundraising telethons. Is this ethical?  Especially since so many comments made by the hosts have to do with the immediate moment (lot’s of prophecies about money), is this something that’s OK?

The stations and networks say that “If it worked 2 years ago, it will work again.” But with people praying for healings, reporting on the callers and money that’s supposedly coming in at that moment, are we pushing the ethical boundaries?  What do you think?

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15 Comments

  1. Boo telethon reruns! Especially in Christian television. Comes off as disingenuous (like many other things in Christian programming…)

  2. Every station and network will always need the same thing…money! So I think its ok to reuse parts of it….but as far as the prophices and things like that..No way take them out in post!!!!!! Anytime their is a word it is for that specific time…and yes i do believe that a word of knowledge can be given over the airways…but for that specific time…so by the time you send it through post and take out the majority of the time you need to fill anyway…heck! Just do another telethon!

  3. If they run a disclaimer across the bottom that clearly states that the telethon people are viewing is a re-run then I think they are fine. Stations re-run programing all the time. But if they are running it as though it is happening right then, they aren't pushing ethical boundries, they've crossed over them. They are essentially asking people for money to meet a need that was addressed by the donors when the telethon originally aired and that pretty much looks like fraud to me and it would causes me to question their integrity.

  4. Rational: "Hey, we got good response from those hours.  If we re-air them, we don't have to do a show for several days.  Tee time."  Lazy.  "The prophecies should be okay."  Sloppy.

  5. Say what you want about PBS, but I have never seen them re-run a telethon.  And on that note…what will it take to base a Christian Telethon on the quality of the programming that the viewer receives outside a telethon window rather than Mike Murdock throwing numbers and "prophesies" at me during a telethon (that mean ZERO during a re-run).  Then again, that would mean that Christian networks would be forced to produce programming that would drive a viewer to WANT to give to the network.  Now THERE's an idea. Sorry…a bit jaded on this topic.  
  6. Last week (August 2007) TBN re-ran a telethon from Spring 2005 with Rod Parsley. On this 2 and a half yr old telethon Paul Crouch Sr. bragged on national tv about how little he paid his staff and that he would control his sons (re: TBN) from his grave. I know because I ran center line camera on that show. Mom & Pop Winans were on, Steve Brock. Dr. Siddeki. Mark Chironna. The usual suspects. It was a good telethon, to be truthful – all shot on the old Costa Mesa set before Hi Def. The reason this telethon was re-run must have been because A) it raised great money then, it'll raise good money now. B) TBN would argue that their needs are the same, really. Nothing wrong with replaying because we still need to pay for satellites and buy stations etc. C) it's cheaper to re-run a proven telethon than to fly everybody in and shoot a new one. Marcus Lamb at Daystar does it too, even mixing and matching one NEW hour with one OLD hour back and forth. Pretty sharp. (And no one is going to run a crawl at the bottom of the screen saying this is a replay of a 2005 telethon: It'd kill the call-ins from people not realizing they're watching a 2 yr show.) Ok, that said, everyone else has ably discussed the merits (good or bad) of replaying old telethons. But the real quesion is: if you're replaying old telethons to raise money what ELSE are you doing to raise funds or operate that is leading you down a slippery slope? The central issue is one of integrity. Are you a truthful & honest ministry? Both in front of the camera, and behind it? What shortcuts are you taking? And why? 

  7. Matt G's comment that PBS does not re-run their telethons is not quite accurate. I see PBS programs with Wayne Dwyer, Rick Steeves or Deepak Chopra, plus a myriad of Classical and Rock concerts, re-run all the time with taped and live host segments. These "specials" are created to incerease viewership and motivate people to join PBS at several donor levels. It's interesting to note that when CBN founder, Pat Robertson, was looking for a way to support his fledgling station in Virginia, he adopted the PBS telethon pattern and added telephones to the mix vs. selling commercial time. Pat's pattern has been adopted by every Christian Television Network since the 70's to raise support.   

  8. Actually, I'll get you on a technicality.  My comments were accurate as they were atttributed to what I had/had not seen.  You are likley correct in that they do.  But it also goes to my point of PBS basing their fundraising on their programming rather than strictly a "live" telethon.  We're really comparing apples and oranges I suppose.  I'd MUCH rather see Chrisitian television fundraising wrapped around actually television shows or special events that have even a little bit of production value to them, rather than a bunch of folks standing on a stage with canned clapping and preaching.  Call me a dreamer.  This blog is a CHANGE-based blog, isn't it?  I'd love to hear Phil's thoughts on this topic…even more so on effective fundraising models for Christian TV.  I'm guessing he'd lean the content route as well.

  9. For many, the motivation for watching Christian Television is based on "The Great Commisson" to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel". By and large, we baby boomers are the ones supporting Christian television because we feel it is import to present the gospel to the world…just like the WWII generation did when Christian TV started in the 70's. As someone who has made Christ the Lord of his life, I don't want to open my spirit to the new age, libral & alternative lifestyle programs presented on PBS. As a producer-director, I come to work every day trying my best to create programs that will lift Jesus up to the world. And if I do that, the bible says, "HE will draw all men unto Him." Do I care about production values? Absolutely! But I really care about telling stories that lead people to Jesus! 

  10. I'm hoping you meant the motivation for PRODUCING Christian television is "The Great Commission".  I'm hard pressed to find the motivation much of the time for actually WATCHING christian TV…and I think it has much to do with the point you've attempted to make in your last post.  I'd LOVE to see Chrisitian television relate to something past the boomers.  You are absolutely right…the boomers and older generations watch and support Chrisitian TV.  Unfortunately viewership and support will end there as well if the product is not brought into the 21st Century.  I'm not disagreeing with your observation regarding the content of PBS.  But I'm at least hoping you'll "open your spirit" to the creative ways in which they attempt to get their message out, truth notwithstanding.  Alternative lifestyles are very prevalent in today's media because they've embraced a 21st Century approach in the delivery of their "message".  Your role as a producer-director is a very important one.  Can we at least be open-minded enough to realize that the "this is the way it's always been done" mentality will result in (if it already hasn't) Christian Television being irrelevant on today's multi-media, multi-channel stage?  I'll be honest.  I was a producer/director in Christian Media and have moved, for the time being, back into "mainstream" media.  It's been a refresher course in "getting the job done" for me.  I'm trusting there will be a day that this experience will lend to helping change the delivery of God's word through TV…for the better.

  11. I guess what I was trying to say is that whatever you produce – sacred or secular – there is a return on the investment. You and I, as a believers, bring an anointing to every project. If I am producing an infomercial or special, the ratings are my barometer for success and the show was the vehicle. Get low ratings, or little response for the product, and the client will not be happy – no matter how beautifully it was shot or lit! There are several new shows being created for Christian Television that are not aimed at boomers – Travel the Road, Drive Thru History are a couple that come to mind. Ed Young & Hillsong are geared for younger audiences too. Matt, my "spirit is open" to new and creative ways to present the gospel as I strive for excellence. In fact, as I travel this week to shoot stories, I will constantly look for ways to raise the bar in both content and production values. I'm not shooting for my reel, I'm telling stories that will bring people to Christ…which has been the call on my life for the past 30 years. You have the same ministry call on your life in "mainstream media" as I do. The hardware is important, but the software [creative ideas] is critical. 

  12. I guess we will agree…..to agree.  Your last post is dead on.  It doesn't have much to do with the topic of this thread (replaying telethons), but nonetheless, it's dead on.  I agree there are several news shows in the making…but my point is that they are not being "used" to raise further dollars for the networks on which they air.  I think these quality shows and the heart-warming stories you are shooting and producing are MUCH better vehicles for both impacting lives of viewers as well as helping to raise funds for further production.  Christian telethons, as they are currently presented, do not do that.  THAT was my "PBS point".  THey are very good at presenting their quality programming as a reason for supporting them.  Instead, Christian TV (by and large) would rather do another sermon with some canned musical numbers, and even worse, canned applause.  I understand it's the cheap way to go. Unfortunately it also comes across that way.

  13. I have seen PBS re-run their telethon footage. They do it pretty much quarterly, and they are not always live in studio.  There are standard "gimme breaks" during partial airings of the products that they are offerring for donation.  They also advertise for Pfizer, Lexus and Kelloggs during regular programming.  Don't know how that works for a "non-profit."

    One comment about prophesies "that mean ZERO during a re-run":  does the reading the prophets fall into that catagory as well, and Revelation?  Why bother with that ratty Old Testament at all then?  The Holy Spirit is not limited by time or space.  Mike Murdock does not really prophesy as much as he relates words of knowledge and it can grow tiresome, yes, but until his tongue cleaves to the roof of his mouth and the phones stop ringing when he speaks twice a year, I'll suffer him another run.

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