Channel 34 , 15 , 2

Television by the Christian churches of Hugoton

Channel 34 began in 1984 when I was head of the cable television system and was approached by the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church about how to go about getting such a channel for use as a community based Christian alternative to other programming on the cable.

This was something that nearly all of our other cable systems had and I thought that the headquarters in Dallas would probably be receptive. Scott Cable sent me a letter stating that for a $25 monthly lease we could do this providing that I had the excess channel capacity.

Trinity Baptist agreed to this and I began working with them to make it all happen. (I also began attending church there, but thatís another story.)

The first thing we did was form a board. Ministers from all over town were invited to be a part but although they encouraged us no one wanted to serve on the board. We formed the board with myself, the pastor, and one of the deacons of Trinity Baptist.

The purpose of this channel was always to be an open platform for any of the christian churches in town to evangelize, teach, and disciple the people of Hugoton. It was agreed that the channel would be operated as a non-commercial station with no appeals for money allowed either.

The programming of locally produced shows would always have precedence over any satellite feed or character generator bulletin boards.

We secured the rights for $15 monthly fee to the American Christian Television System (ACTS) and being a new start they also provided us with a free satellite dish.

We then purchased a commercial grade satellite receiver and a modulator through the cable company.

The church building was located in the corner of town where the main trunk line from the cable head end come into town and the first amplifier with any distribution cables was located about 200 feet it. This greatly simplified the interconnection to the cable since all that was needed was a coupler just ahead of this amp. I knew of other churches that had been forced to spend a lot of money to build dedicated back haul lines, or even microwave links to get their signal to the cable system.

Now we were on the cable. After the first month the cable company returned our check along with a signed document stating that from now on the lease fee would not be collected and the lease would on-going forever as long as we continued to use the channel. I guess they just wanted to see if were sincere in wanting to do it.

After a few years (and a few turnovers in the ownership of the cable company) we were switched to channel 15, several years (and more cable companies) later we were switched to Channel 2 on the system.

After about 15 years of operation, Pioneer Communications the local phone company, purchased the cable system an sent us a letter stating that our transmission on the cable system was to cease. I attempted to get in contact with Mr. Richard Veatch the head of Pioneer, for over a week. His office would not connect me nor make an appointment for me to see him. I couldn't get anyone to return a call. After awhile I was able to get by the secretary and talk to him. His words to me were that "regardless of a lease agreement he would not be held to an contract that some other company had made."

Of course this is not legal since when the company is purchased you also purchase all "assets and liabilities".

I then contacted the Mayor of Hugoton Neil Gillespie, who told me that "whatever the phone company decides to do is their business and he can't do anything". This of course in my opinion, is not legal since the mayor and city council under their franchise authority granted by the federal government become the regulators of the cable company.

After another attempt to talk to him I was told that I could not get time on the agenda to speak to the council. The deadline came and we had to shut down.

Christianity is being persecuted in the United States. People in authority have continually sought to push the message of Christ out of public forum and back behind the four walls of the church house. Since Pioneer is a cooperative and is "owned by the people they serve", this places many christians in the bizarre position of persecuting their own faith. Freedom of religion and freedom of speech it seems are only for those who hold the right views.

A Station Logo from the early '90's

One of the backgrounds that was used for the continous crawl of the weekly chuuch bullentin during the live audio of the Hugoton United Methodist Church. We carried this for about 5 or 6 years before thay went on radio.

Opening title for the Sunday morning services of the Hugoton First Church of God. We ran this as a tape delayed program on Sunday afternoons for about 4 years.

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