International (MNN) — SAT-7 is combating the negative messages of Arab television. They hope to launch a new Christian children's station that will air 24 hours a day.
The children's program that started 10 years ago, called "As Sanabel," or "Ears of Wheat," became increasingly popular. At that time it was only a 10-minute daily segment that now has become a 2-hour daily program. SAT-7 began praying to launch an entire channel with their programs by September 2007. It would cover the entire Arab world–22 countries and 5 time zones–and would include programs from many different
countries across that region.
"In a way it's covering all aspects in a child's life, not just the spiritual aspect but also presenting educational issues and entertaining kids," said Rita El Mounayer, Director of Children's programming at SAT-7. The channel will feature science discovery, dance lessons, talents of children, as well as other programs from several countries in the region.
In many places in the Arab world, children are forced to watch TV to stay safe from the violence of their war-torn countries, and 60-percent of the Arab population is under the age of 25. A television is often considered a necessity and is purchased before a refrigerator or a bed, since it is a means of connecting to the outside world as well as providing entertainment.
The problem is the quantity of negative messages that are sent via Arab television. "You see people in the Arab world using media to shape the hearts and minds of children from an early age. You see a lot of programs interrupted for the call of prayers, Koranic verses, or also for messages of hate and violence–especially on certain television stations in the Middle East, [though] not all of them,"
said El Mounayer.
SAT-7 wants to emit a different message: love, hope, and forgiveness. "We also believe that to reach and change the Arab world, we have to start with children," El Mounayer
They are encouraged by people who are aware that there are Christians in the Arab world that are suffering. "It helps when we know a lot of people are aware of what's happening in the Middle East, aware that we're Christians," said El Mounayer.