On the last day of May 1996, an Egyptian Christian sat down in front of his television set
and saw something he had never seen on Arabic TV before: a lady presenter with
a cross around her neck. To see a representative of the almost invisible Arab Christian minority on screen was such a shock to him
that he just had to call the station and say, “Mish maoul! This is unbelievable!”
What this viewer had seen was the first broadcast of SAT-7,
a satellite TV channel that since then has radically changed the image of Christianity in the Arab world.
For ten years prior to the first broadcast, the vision of a Christian, Arabic-language satellite channel had
been growing in the mind of Terence Ascott, a Brit working in the Christian publishing industry in Egypt. But for many years, nobody
really believed it could be done. It wasn’t until the Saudi satellite channel
MBC was launched from London
in 1991, in response to the success of CNN during the first Gulf War, that the
concept of Arabic satellite TV began to seem realistic. But still Arab Christians thought it was beyond their reach. To
imagine that Arab Christians could
have any media presence was like a dream.
Over the next years research and feasibility studies were
done, and partners were rallied behind the vision. Finally, in November 1995,
SAT-7 was born at a founding meeting in Larnaca,
Six months later, the first two-hour SAT-7 Arabic broadcast
went on the air. It included a program for children, some Christian testimonies, and a film about persecuted Christians in China. The following week, the
broadcast had to be repeated because the new programs were not ready. But that
did not stop the vision nor change the fact that the unbelievable had happened.