ANAHEIM, Calif., Feb. 13 (RNS)--In a study commissioned by a Christianbroadcasting network, a third of the viewers polled who considerthemselves evangelical Christians said they don't like religioustelevision.

The figure jumps to 60 percent for people who say they are religiousbut not evangelical.

The results led the Total Living Network, which commissioned thestudy, to conclude that "religious television is not currently meetingthe needs of viewers," according to a summary provided to Religion NewsService by TLN during the recent annual convention of the NationalReligious Broadcasters. The meeting here concluded Feb. 8.

The study, produced for TLN by the New York marketing firm Zoetics,surveyed 1,000 randomly selected viewers in July 1998. The study carriesa margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

The 24-hour Chicago cable network has been analyzing the data forover a year as part of an attempt to understand its viewers, saidChristine Moore, TLN's publicist.

The survey also looked beyond religious programming to television ingeneral.

Among the additional findings are that 73 percent of adults believethat "a lot of TV is often violent, sexually explicit and evenshocking," the summary indicated.

For 54 percent, "today's TV has very little redeeming value."

The results don't surprise some media experts.

"They're very consistent with everything I've read and studied,"said Ken Waters, who teaches media ethics at Pepperdine University inMalibu, Calif.

"It's preaching to the choir," Waters said of current Christiantelevision programming. "There's not enough variety....How manypreachers can you watch in a 24-hour period?"

For TLN President Jerry Rose, the study showed a mismatch betweenwhat many Americans want from religious programming and what itdelivers.

"There was a disconnect between their feeling and need," Rose said,"and what they saw on Christian television."

TLN commissioned the study so that it could be "intentional...indesigning the format rather than letting the format just happen," hesaid.

A television veteran who is also an ordained Assemblies of Godminister, Rose said that a lot of people in Christian television come tothe medium from a background in ministry. Because "their passion is tobuild a church," he said, "television becomes a conduit" for theirministry goals.

By showing more awareness of the unique character of the medium,Rose wants to transform Christian television. He hopes to foster jointventures among religious broadcasters and producers and plans toexperiment with new formats.

Referring to recent mergers by media giants like AOL and TimeWarner, Rose said secular companies realize they "have to formstrategic, synergistic alliances." He wants the same for Christianbroadcasters, who he said perennially lack funds to compete with theslick production values of their nonreligious counterparts.

Rose said he is planning a programming format that will combineshort dramatic episodes with interviews and other segments to gentlyconnect with viewers' needs.

Instead of being preached answers to questions they may not evenhave, viewers would see the positive results of faith and get a sense ofhope for their lives, he said.

"The idea is not to be so declarative," said Rose, who served as NRBpresident from 1988 to 1990.

Calling for new concepts from religious broadcasters, Rose said"we're not trying to change the way people feel about Christiantelevision, but we're trying to change the way Christian televisionfeels about people."

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