News Articles

FamilyNet sold again

DALLAS (BP)–FamilyNet, a television and radio network formerly owned by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, has been sold once again.

Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries, which purchased FamilyNet from NAMB in October 2007, has sold the network to a private firm affiliated with Robert A. Schuller, son of TV preacher Robert Schuller.

The Schullers, who were jointly leading the “Hour of Power” telecast from California’s Crystal Cathedral, parted ways in a much-publicized father-son dispute in November 2008.

No purchase price for FamilyNet was disclosed by either In Touch Ministries, which issued a news release about the sale Dec. 10, or the private firm, named ComStar Media Fund, L.P., according to the TradingMarkets.com business website.

Neither NAMB nor In Touch disclosed a purchase price for FamilyNet’s sale in 2007. The then-Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (now NAMB), in 1991, purchased FamilyNet from the ministry of TV preacher Jerry Falwell, who died in 2007.

NAMB received a half-hour of TV and radio programming each week under the sale of Family Net to In Touch Ministries. NAMB, though, will lose that airtime under the new sale.

ComStar’s CEO and president is Chris Wyatt, who founded the company last year with Schuller, his father-in-law. Wyatt previously was president of GodTube, a Christian version of YouTube which he co-founded in 2007 but which became a Christian social networking site, tangle.com, earlier this year.

ComStar is the parent company of AmericanLife Television Network, which, in adding FamilyNet’s estimated 26 million television households and 11 million households via SIRIUS Satellite Radio, now has a reach of 50 million households, according to a Dec. 8 news release on PR Newswire.

ComStar, in acquiring FamilyNet Television, will gain a diverse library of programming such as classic sitcoms “Happy Days” and “My Three Sons”; an original production library with such programs as “Judie Byrd’s Kitchen,” “The Wacky World of Bruce Barry” and “Aqua Kids”; and access to such syndicated radio programs as “Focus on the Family,” “In Touch With Dr. Charles Stanley” and “The Dave Ramsey Show.”

In Touch Ministries Chief Operating Officer Phillip Bowen said in the ministry’s Dec. 10 news release, “In Touch took FamilyNet as far as possible with our available resources. Its growth and success occurred with a swiftness we never could have expected. When this opportunity with ComStar Media presented itself, we understood it was God taking FamilyNet to the next level.”

The In Touch Ministries news release also stated: “The network has not only doubled its reach to households but has also seen a robust increase in ad sales and programming opportunities, despite the struggling U.S. economy.”

Wyatt, in the PR Newswire release, said ComStar is “aggressively acquiring distribution and technology that will position us to become the premiere network in the increasingly important family market.”

A program hosted by Robert A. Schuller, “Everyday Life,” will be a cornerstone of the widened AmericanLife Television Network (ALN).

According to the Orange County Register, the show “is a scripted one with actors and Schuller as the narrator, telling the story of a man who has lost his way spiritually and then realizes what the important things in life are.”

The Register, in a Nov. 27 article, also noted that ALN is the only network to air “The Third Jihad” (in October) which, as described by the paper, outlines “Islamic terrorists’ 100-year plan to undermine the United States and rule the world,” and another film, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West” (Dec. 8).
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.