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Evangelical TV programmes in Spain and Portugal turn Covid-19 restrictions into chance to reach new audiences

“Our audience grew in the months of the pandemic”, says the team behind the evangelical programme aired every Sunday on the Spanish public television. The Portuguese project seeks to better reach children.

AUTOR 7/Joel_Forster MADRID / LISBON 05 DE AGOSTO DE 2021 15:25 h
Photo of a 2021 episode of the Spanish evangelical programme Buenas Noticias TV. / Photo: [link]Buenas Noticias TV[/link]

Covid-19 testimonies, new contents for children, social media efforts to reach young people. These are some of the latest changes experienced by two seasoned television programmes aired on Southern European public broadcasting systems and produced by evangelical Christians.

As all other projects in the multimedia industry, Buenas Noticias TV (in English, Good News TV) in Spain, and Luz das Nações and Caminhos (Light to the Nations and Ways) in Portugal, had to rethink their production processes in 2020 as the pandemic hit their countries.


Spain: How faith makes a difference in Covid-19

“During the heavy home confinement of the beginning of the pandemic, we realised that we had to reach the profound needs of the people in such tough times”, says Esteban Lozano Cillero, the scriptwriter of Buenas Noticias TV, a 15-minute long programme broadcasted every Sunday morning on La2, the second channel of the Spanish national Television (RTVE).

[photo_footer] Esteban Lozano, scriptwriter of Buenas Noticias TV. / BN TV[/photo_footer] 

“Throughout the crudest months of the pandemic, we did Zoom interviews with people who had recovered from the virus, with care homes, with medical doctors, NGOS, police officers, pastors, etc… They all shared with us their experiences about how the Lord helped them in such difficult situations”, Lozano explains.

He and others in the team were “surprised” because “our television audience grew in the months of the pandemic, even though the quality of the Zoom recording was much lower than programmes we were doing before. I believe the Lord led us to address issues that society needed in that specific moment”.

As the restrictions eased later in 2020, and it was possible to return to outside recordings, the programme saw new opportunities to adapt to reality. Many Christian conferences and events had been cancelled, but the “rhythm of production could be maintained”, Lozano says, with “interviews on Bible passages, and reports on topics such as climate change, refugees, cinema and faith, the euthanasia law, abortion, Christian literature, children, abuse of women, and the psychological sequelae of the coronavirus”.

Buenas Noticias TV also continues to highlight the testimony of Christian families across Spain. In the last years, dozens of them have shared on tv show about how the Christian faith makes a difference in their daily lives.


New platforms, reaching the Gen Z

Buenas Noticias TV has lately been opening new lines of communication. “We are now in a process of renewal. We continue to bring the message of the gospel to our usual audience through the television, but we are focused on connecting more with the young generations through digital platforms, preparing exclusive contents for them”.

[photo_footer] The evangelical programmes are available on the online media player of the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE. / RTVE [/photo_footer] 

There is a project to reach the Spanish Generation Z (those born after 1997), which has engaged pastors and youth leaders.

“Our hope”, concludes Lozano, “is that the Lord uses these efforts for His glory and that many more persons, of all ages, get the chance to know Jesus personally”.


Portugal: Reacting to the crisis

Also in Portugal the pandemic led to heavy restrictions. “Most of our interviews are now recorded via Skype, with only the presenter in the studio, but this allowed us to interview people from further away”, says Sara Narciso, the coordinator and host of the two evangelical programmes on RTP 2, the second channel of the national Portuguese broadcasting system. Luz das Nações is aired every week, Caminhos once a month.

[photo_footer]Sara Narciso, during an interview at one of the Portuguese evangelical programmes on RTP2. / RTP[/photo_footer] 

The lockdown ment “fewer face-to-face events”, so they also “had to rethink the themes we addressed”, says Narciso. “We wanted to meet people's concerns and spiritual needs in times of crisis. We invested in testimonies and words of hope for the present time”, she explains, and this included “recorded testimonies of Christian families and pastors”.


For children, with children

An area that has been strengthened is the “new series of children’s episodes called ‘Super Bible Stories’, reaching out to children who in many cases have also been confined at home”.

[photo_footer] The focus on children contents is one of the new lines of the Portufguese evangelical tv programmes. / AEP[/photo_footer] 

Narciso says they are excited because “this program for children has been a success, since it involves several participations of our children, churches, and even online content that the churches created for their dominical schools”. They have also premiered some episodes of the international SuperBook serie on the public television in Portugal.


Social media and connection with local churches

The interaction with viewers comes through the social media, says the Portuguese communicator: “We do follow-up with our viewers by sending out evangelistic literature to anyone who requests it, and putting them in touch with local churches across Portugal”.

She is optimistic about the years to come. “We realise that online is here to stay, and it will complement other means of communication that already exist. Television, radio and social media are the means par excellence to share the gospel and bring hope in difficult times like these. These are opportunities!”





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