Back in college, when I still knew everything, I got blindsided with a truth that has stuck with me all these years.
One of my broadcasting classes was visited by the owner of a local radio station. During our discussion he asked the question, “What do radio/TV stations sell?”
I immediately began to channel my inner-Arnold Horshack, “Ooh, ooh, I know the answer, they sell TIME!” I rested back in my chair with a smug grin on my face. I just knew that he would be so impressed with my knowledge and rapid hand-raising skills that he would give me a job. Boy, was I wrong.
He looked at me as if he knew that someone in the class would say that. He had found his mark. He trained his “bless his heart” smile in my direction. “No,” he said. “They sell access to an audience.”
It made sense, instantly.
Essentially, broadcasters sell buyers (advertisers) access to a specific audience for a brief moment in time (usually 30 – 60 seconds). In fact, stations are usually required to air “make goods” if not enough members of pre-defined specific groups watch or listen to a program. (That is the whole reason for Neilsen and Arbitron ratings to exist.) It is the access to the audience that is being sold. This is also the driving force behind getting you to follow shows or networks on social media sites.
It occurred to me that when I watch “free” television, I am being sold! When you watch television, you and your family, are being sold!
That is the biggest difference between secular stations and Christian Television. We depend on viewer support to help keep our costs down so that ministries have an affordable option when considering their outreach goals. When you give to CTN, you aren’t being sold, you are entering into a partnership. A partnership forged out of a deep seated desire to see the Kingdom of God expanded. I’m no rocket scientist but partnership sounds better than slavery.
And for those of you who don't know who Arnold Horshack is, check this out: