Scientology may start own TV channel; SCTV back?
- Last Updated: 11:03 AM, July 13, 2012
- Posted: 10:56 PM, July 12, 2012
The Church of Scientology has so many stars — from Tom Cruise to Kirstie Alley — it could start its own TV channel.
And now it looks like it’s doing just that.
The controversial church began moving into a huge, five-acre TV studio complex — the former home of LA’s public TV station on Sunset Boulevard — a few weeks ago.
The studio, which it bought last year for more than $42 million, will be “a central media hub for our growing world network of churches and to move into the production of religious television and radio broadcasting,” a church spokesperson said in a prepared statement.
Speculation is that the new studio will be the home for a Scientology cable channel to help repair the church’s battered public image.
DVDs and Web shows promoting the modern religion — founded 60 years ago by a failed science-fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard — have been produced for years at a facility near Hemet, Calif.
So when the church bought the old KCET studios — where shows like Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” were produced — in downtown LA, it became clear Scientology had bigger plans for TV.
“Having their own TV channel is a good idea since they can spin things their way,” Elayne Rapping, a professor of American studies at the University of Buffalo, told Reuters.
“They are after good p.r., which they can control to offset the bad publicity surrounding them in other media.”
Scientologists have recruited new followers, mostly with aggressive pamphleteering and handing out copies of “Dianetics,” the group’s “bible.”
But the addition of a TV channel could push the spread of Scientology doctrine into new areas much more quickly.
Scientology is recognized as a tax-exempt religion under US law, and any channel would likely not carry commercials.
Whether a Scientology channel can find an audience beyond the already faithful is another question.
But it could field a lineup full of the star power from its ranks, including John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Jason Lee, Jenna Elfman, Juliette Lewis, Catherine Bell and Elisabeth Moss.
Starting a cable-TV channel is expensive, since it will require the church to pay cable systems to carry its station.
Oprah Winfrey, who quit daytime TV last year to start a cable channel, has said she had no idea how hard it would be to get it off the ground.