CATHOLIC PewPOINT:

If we sit silently by, we will be satan's accomplices!

     Yesterday was the Fifth Sunday of Lent. In times past it was always considered Passion Sunday with the following week Palm Sunday leading into Holy Week and Easter Sunday. It was sort of a "countdown" in Lent to gage our progress. After Vatican II, Passion Sunday was bumped from the Fifth Sunday to Palm Sunday where the two were forced to share one day. This piggy backing has confused some, but more may be yet confused when they learn of another "piggy backing" that will take effect beginning Wednesday. We're talking about EchoStar's decision to cut Mother Angelica's EWTN programming in half, forcing it to share a channel with America's Voice - whatever that is! EchoStar is the parent company of the Dish Network which was co-founded by Charles Ergan whose headquarters are just northwest of Denver in Littleton and Northglenn, Colorado. The Dish Network boasts 180 channels but can't find a single clear channel for Mother Angelica's station? Something is afoot here and we intend to get to the bottom of it.

     We first learned of this demotion through an e-mail from one of our subscribers and then contacted the Dish Network to get the skivvy. As with most companies, it is nigh unto impossible to get through to the decision makers as we were put off by a representative named Sheryl who claimed she was in charge of promotions for the company, but when we asked her how many channels the Dish Network carried, she couldn't give us a number. Not too knowledgable for someone promoting a product. But we can give you a number, the toll-free number to call and register your complaint: 888-621-2078 or 800-333-DISH (3474). We also asked her why EWTN was being "cut in half," and she could only say, "they decided on it." We asked who "they" were and finally got her to admit it came from the top, the powers-to-be in the person of Mr. Ergan, the CEO. We were able to coax his e-mail out of her and proceeded to e-mail Mr. Ergan, or "Charlie" as he's referred to at charliechat@dishnetwork.com. We include his e-mail address here so you, too, can flood him with posts protesting his decision to pare back EWTN. Hopefully the numbers will impress him and he will reconsider. Anyway, we inquired of Mr. Ergan on why a corporation boasting 180 channels needs to double-up two stations, especially in light of the fact they carry East and West Coast time versions of the same channel on different channels such as Nickolodeon, sports, etc. which are basically repeats but more for the convenience of time zones. That is all well and good, but not at the expense of another channel's full capabilities and especially the caliber of programming offered by EWTN! For a full listing of the channels offered you can go to their webpage at www.dishnetwork.com because there is also a box you can fill out asking for a specific channel to be added. We recommend you go there and write in EWTN with the words 24 hours full time after it. We also asked Ergan if he realized he was biting the hand that feeds him in so far as Mother actively promoted the Dish on her programs, encouraging viewers to subscribe to the Dish Network so they could be assured of receiving EWTN in their area where cable did not carry it, or, as in the case with our cable company, where it is piggy backed with another network (such as the Discovery Channel here) and we only can get EWTN from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily. Many purchased the dish at Mother's urging and now, they, too are about to be betrayed. As we reminded Ergan, is this anyway to reward loyalty? Will he buy back the dish from all those promised 24 hours of EWTN programming? For those with the dish network, we understand Ergan has his own program on Monday evening, April 6 on Channel 100 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Why not flood him with calls on this EWTN situation. If you don't speak up, who will?

     For those who don't have the dish, don't feel this doesn't affect you. It affects all loyal Catholics who treasure what Mother Angelica has done in spreading the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith to all over her global Catholic Network. We are quite aware that there are many liberal bishops out to curtail Mother's evangelization mission and we wouldn't even put it past them that they somehow have had a hand in this decision at EchoStar. Though we have no proof, we do know some bishops have put pressure on cable companies to influence them not to carry EWTN. There is a concentrated effort to silence Mother and the closer she comes to exposing the liberals and their true agenda of disobeying Rome, the more the attacks against her. Remember, we wrote in this column about a month ago that all the threats Cardinal Roger Mahony made against Mother has come to naught. Of course, because to go through proper channels would bring to the surface Mother's true loyalty and seriously question Mahony's and the others' intent on why they want to silence a voice which is echoing the Vicar of Christ. With over 200 million Catholics in North America, two thirds of that number in the United States, one has to ask if there are any other networks out there that can boast those kind of demographics. Even the big three, ABC, CBS and NBC have never come close to that plateau in numbers on a regular basis. Not that that many Catholics watch EWTN, let alone practice their faith, but the point is Mother has built up a loyal following over the sixteen to seventeen years she has been on the air which began in 1981, the same year the Medjugorje apparitions began and the same year Cyndi and yours truly tied the knot. The point is we cannot sit idly by and let others dictate what we watch and when, we cannot sit idly by and let others influence our faith and water it down be it in the pulpit or by curtailing the hours excellent Roman Catholic programming is aired. We pointed out emphatically to Ergan that EWTN is the ONLY full-time programming available anywhere in the contiguous United States with an estimated 75 million Catholics tuning in at various times of the day. To cut this excellent and needed programming in half is not only a disservice to them, but a tremendous slap in the face of the Catholic Church. We consider it one more attack by satan to curtail God's work on earth. Please flood Ergan's office and e-mail today and often with your concerns. We can make a difference for God's sake, but, if we sit silently by, we will be satan's accomplices!

Michael Cain, editor

Here's the full set of numbers to contact Dish Network to lodge your protest:

Phone: 888-621-2078 or 800-333-DISH (3474)
e-mail: charliechat@dishnetwork.com
Address:
Charles Ergan, CEO
EchoStar
PO Box 33577
Northglenn, CO 80233

Dish Network URL: www.dishnetwork.com


Daily CATHOLIC          March 30, 1998