Christian Science Church adds to roster of broadcast activities
With the recent start-up of shortwave radio station WCSN, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, has added another element to its rapidly growing roster of broadcast activities. The multimillion-dollar thrust into radio and television, church officials say, is designed to extend the goals and values of The Christian Science Monitor to the electronic media. Those goals were first articulated by the denomination's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, in an editorial that appeared in the paper's first edition in 1908: ``The object of the Monitor is to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.''
But the effort also is occurring against the backdrop of a newspaper running a deficit and with a relatively small, though rising, circulation. Some of the broadcast ventures are expected eventually to show profits, which could be used to offset the newspaper's operating shortfall of about $19 million. In addition, the broadcast media's reach is expected to broaden the paper's name recognition and so help boost its circulation.
``The Monitor's role in the last of this century has to be defined globally,'' says John H. Hoagland Jr., manager of The Christian Science Publishing Society. ``We've got to be at the forefront of being comprehensive in our view of mankind. That makes radio especially important. Radio is going to bring the World Edition of the newspaper to a broader audience, and it's going to bring [Monitor] television into other societies as well.''
The shortwave setup includes two transmitting sites, one in Scotts Corners, Maine, and the other on the Western Pacific island of Saipan. News, public affairs, and religious programs broadcast from the Maine transmitter are aimed at Europe, the western Soviet Union, the Middle East, and most of Africa. The Saipan station currently covers Japan and Korea, but an additional transmitter is planned for that site to allow coverage to extend to other parts of Asia and the South Pacific and to Eastern Africa. In addition, the church is weighing plans to build a station in the southern US aimed at Latin America and Canada.
Between the Maine and Saipan sites, the church has invested some $11 million so far in its shortwave broadcast facilities.
In addition to its own produced radio programming, ``The World Service of The Christian Science Monitor'' draws material from the daily paper as well as the Publishing Society's MonitoRadio daily and weekend editions, which are distributed in the US through American Public Radio. The hour-long weekend program currently airs on 162 stations nationwide; about 98 stations use the half-hour daily program, according to an APR spokeswoman. The radio lineup also includes a 45-minute version of the weekly program on Radio Luxembourg, and a half-hour version on the American Armed Forces Radio Network.
On the TV side, in addition to outlays of $4 million to install production facilities at its headquarters, the church took full title recently of Boston UHF station WQTV. The $7.5 million station currently serves as the Boston outlet for ``The Christian Science Monitor Reports,'' a weekly half-hour news program distributed through Independent Network News to some 88 TV stations nationwide. This fall, the church plans to air a daily news program on WQTV, and eventually, religious programming as well.
During the rest of the day, WQTV's fare offers a variety of family programs, films, and reruns.
Owning a TV station serves several purposes, say church officials: It helps fulfill Mrs. Eddy's desire that the Monitor serve the New England area; it may provide a demonstrated audience base that the marketing people can point to when trying to sell future news programs; and it makes a general statement about the Monitor's commitment to the medium.
To oversee these activities, the church has set up a syndicate to operate the TV and shortwave stations, as well as to serve as the central marketing arm.
Amid the growth in the church's broadcast efforts, the daily paper has also been making gains. In February, for example, average daily circulation for the month hit 213,000, the highest monthly rate for the paper in 12 years. Average circulation for the year ending April 30 was 173,500, the best showing in 11 years. Ads for the paper on TV are pulling in 50 subscriptions a day, according to Mr. Hoagland.
In the last two years the paper has added bureaus in Manila, Canada, the Persian Gulf, and Nairobi, Kenya, and has reopened its Tokyo bureau. Editor Katherine Fanning notes that two more foreign bureaus are to be opened in the next fiscal year.
The paper's weekly World Edition, distributed outside the United States, has also grown in staff and circulation. During the past year, the World Edition was introduced to Canada, where its circulation runs at more 20,000.
In looking at the Publishing Society's array of news and public-affairs outlets, Hoagland says that ``every one of these activities, far from replacing the others, helps lift them up.
``If you look at the experience of the newspaper since we started broadcasting, the resources devoted to people, overseas bureaus, and travel have all increased. ... If you look at circulation, that has come up substantially. Television programs and radio programs are increasing the visibility of the daily every day. The new means do lead to adaptations to other means, but they never replace them.''