Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Romania: SperantaTV Broadcasts Hope to Romanians Worldwide

May 22, 2007 Bucarest, Romania
Karel Nowak/ANN Staff

Hope has come to the country of Romania in the form of SperantaTV, which offers 24/7 Seventh-day Adventist television programming. The channel broadcast its first program at the end of April and was officially launched on May 19. SperantaTV, which means 'hope' in the Romanian language, is the seventh channel to fall under the umbrella of Adventist-owned Hope Channel International.

SperantaTV is fully owned and operated by the Adventist church in Romania through the local Adventist Media Center. Its director, Adrian Bocaneanu, says the programming will reach beyond Romania into much of Europe, including Moldova where Romanian is the official language.

"SperantaTV wants to reflect and serve the whole spectrum of Romanian Adventists around the world," said Bocaneanu. Programming is expected to reflect contributions from Romanian Adventist churches from Madrid, Spain to Vienna, Austria, and even as far away as the United States. Bocaneanu adds that Hungarian programming will soon be added to the broadcast lineup to reach the 10 percent of Adventists in Romania who speak that language.

The Adventist church in the rural town of Macea, near the Western Hungarian border, was the first in Romania to broadcast SperantaTV via cable. In an interview played at the May 19 launch, the mayor of Macea told the Adventist church that he appreciates the channel for filling a moral gap in the local television programming.

At the launch, Pastor Teodor Hutanu, president of the Adventist church in Romania, said God's leading in the development of the channel makes the church "more responsible to use His gifts [to spread] the gospel in [the] language of love and hope."

"I hope this new television channel will assume the role to introduce the Adventist church to a public which knows very little about it," said Adventist world church president Pastor Jan Paulsen in a videotaped message to the Romanian church on the occasion.

"SperantaTV has the unique chance to communicate in an attractive way the values and beliefs which define us as a global family of faith ... [and] has the sacred mission to prepare the people of God to become witnesses, to promote spiritual development, to train and to motivate members for missionary activity," Paulsen continued.

When asked if the U.S. $2 million investment in facilities and equipment necessary for launching SperantaTV might pose a financial challenge to the church in Romania, Ioan Campain, its treasurer, said, "The Lord provided miraculously for the financial means and he is not going to abandon us now." He added that "small but consistent" offerings from church members would "go a long way" toward supporting the programming.

Brad Thorp, president for Hope Channel International, welcomed SperantaTV to what he called the "family of Adventist television." He then encouraged the small team to "be bold, be creative, be proactive and make SperantaTV a powerful tool used to share the Good News."

The use of electronic media by the Adventist church in Romania started in 1992 with the Voice of Hope radio program broadcast. Presently, the church owns radio stations in 14 large cities. Television outreach has also grown significantly over the past decade.

In 2002, an emerging public television channel specializing in news began broadcasting In the Center of Attention, a program produced live in a studio located at the headquarters of the Romanian Union in Bucharest. The program quickly became a highly respected broadcast, drawing national guests such as members of the artistic, educational and business elite; members of the Parliament and other government representatives; ambassadors; former country presidents; and representatives of prestigious organizations. Many Adventist leaders, pastors, teachers and lay members also appeared on the show, including Pastor Paulsen.

In 2005, the Romanian Union completed construction of a modern production and broadcast center for the Voice of Hope radio and video production. That same year, a nine-year television license from the government allowed the union to launch SperantaTV. Today, the station transmits a five-hour block of programming, which is repeated throughout the day. As contributions increase, Bocaneanu and the team hope to offer 8 hours of programming each day.

SperantaTV is currently available to some 700,000 subscribers to Romania's two main digital platforms. To increase that audience, the church recently signed contracts that will allow cable companies to redistribute the programming. SperantaTV is also available on the Internet at www.speranta.tv, where Bocaneanu and the team hope it will especially impact young Adventist Romanians.

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