A network of miracles
When Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was launched on 15 August, 1981, many felt there would be little demand for a Catholic network. In fact, when Mother Angelica, a cloistered nun, fulfilled a promise to our Lord in the early 1960s by founding Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama, she had no idea she would one day found the largest religious media network in the world.
Who could have imagined that a cloistered nun would found a global television network? Who could have predicted that a network funded entirely by donations from "people in the pews" instead of advertising would become the largest religious media network in the world? Yet that is the story behind the EWTN Global Catholic Network.
Mission and History
What is EWTN's mission?
The Mission Statement of EWTN reads:
Eternal Word Television Network is dedicated to the advancement of truth as defined by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The mission of the Eternal Word Television Network is to serve the orthodox belief and teaching of the Church as proclaimed by the supreme Pontiff and his predecessors.
How did this project begin?
In the early 1960's, Mother Angelica, a cloistered Franciscan Poor Clare nun, fulfilled a promise to our Lord to found a monastery in the non-Catholic southern part of the United States. The Bishop of Mobile, Alabama, which included the city of Irondale, a suburb of Birmingham, invited her to do so. Once she and her nuns moved to Irondale, the first step in her programme of evangelisation was to write a series of "Mini-Books" on a variety of religious themes. As their popularity grew, the monastery acquired its own printing press to print them and began to distribute them worldwide.
How did this evolve into a television network?
The popularity of the Mini-Books led to many requests for speaking engagements by Mother Angelica, which evolved into a series of her talks being taped at a local television station. Eager to bring this message to a much wider audience, the idea of a Catholic television network was born. From the humble beginnings of a small TV studio built at the monastery by six nuns who knew little of the world of technology and communication, EWTN now possesses a state of the art audiovisual complex, which is totally funded by gifts from individuals and groups. Since its inauguration in August 1981 EWTN has grown to become the world's largest religious media network.
Is EWTN only a television network?
EWTN has grown from its humble origins and is now the world’s largest Catholic media network, consisting of nine television networks, two radio networks, a network of popular Catholic websites, news and publishing services.
Structure and Operations
Who owns EWTN?
EWTN is an independent charitable organisation based in Alabama, USA. It has trustees but does not have shareholders or owners.
Who Runs EWTN?
EWTN is lead by a management team who worked for years with Mother Angelica before she retired. These men and women were personally selected by Mother Angelica to continue the network’s mission and run its day to day operations. Today EWTN has over 300 employees.
Does EWTN have an official status in the Church?
EWTN is an independent operation. It is a member of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, which is officially recognised by the Holy See whose delegate from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications sits on its board. One of EWTN's past directors was President of the International Group of SIGNIS, one of the seven regional groups of SIGNIS.
What is EWTN's relationship with the Vatican?
EWTN has an excellent working relationship with Vatican Television and regularly collaborates with it in transmitting major papal events from around the world. In 2009 EWTN founder Mother Angelica and EWTN’s Chairman of the Board, Deacon Bill Steltemeier, were awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal (The Cross of Honour) by Pope Benedict XVI for distinguished service to the Church. This medal is the highest award bestowed by the Papacy on the laity.
What is EWTN's relationship with the bishops?
There are several bishops who serve on EWTN’s Board of Governors. In addition a large number of cardinals, archbishops and bishops from the US and around the world have been featured guests on many EWTN programmes.
Is EWTN conservative or fundamentalist in its attitude and programming?
EWTN’s programming is faithful to the teachings of the Church. It has no agenda other than to proclaim enthusiastically the Gospel and to fulfil the Holy Father’s call for a New Evangelisation.
Finances and Donations
How is EWTN financed?
EWTN is supported entirely by donations from its viewers and listeners. EWTN receives no advertising or affiliate fees. Mother Angelica founded the network relying solely on Divine Providence, which it continues to do today.
Does EWTN charge for its services?
EWTN does not charge for its services. All its satellite signals are "free to air", meaning that they are available at no cost to television providers, radio stations, and to all who have the appropriate dish and receiver.
EWTN's Media Network
What are the main facts about EWTN's media network?
EWTN has television and radio channels, each offering programming 24 hours a day, and a network of websites.
There are nine separate television services ("feeds" or "streams") with programming scheduled according to local time zones and some customisation of programmes themselves: (1) United States (2) Canada (3) United States - Spanish (4) South America and Spain (5 & 6) Europe – English on two satellites also covering the Middle East (7) Europe -German (8) Asia and the Pacific Rim (9) Africa and South Asia.
The feed to South America and Spain is in the Spanish language. Approximately 75% of Spanish language programming is produced in-house by EWTN. The remaining 25% originates from a variety of countries in South America as well as Spain.
Besides the nine distinct television feeds worldwide, EWTN offers two distinct radio feeds (English and Spanish) which are both available worldwide on the web and are rebroadcast to hundreds of millions of potential AM/FM and satellite radio listeners around the world.
EWTN's shortwave radio station, WEWN, with its four 500 Kw. transmitters, reaches around the world. It offers three separate feeds: one service entirely in Spanish, reaching South America, and two services in English with distinct schedules, though the same programming.
The National Catholic Register (NCR) is the oldest Catholic newspaper in the United States (founded 1927) and was acquired by EWTN in 2011.
From 2011 to 2014 NCR has been voted "Best Catholic Newspaper" in the U.S.
In November 2011 EWTN launched "Register Radio" to bring the resources of NCR to a radio audience.
EWTN's main and much-awarded website, www.ewtn.com, attracts many million page views every month.
In May 2005, the United States Library of Congress selected EWTN's website for inclusion in the historic collection of internet materials related to the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
Among the website's features is a Catholic "Question and Answer" section, where learned theologians answer e-mailed questions about the Faith.
Other services available on EWTN's website include:
- Searchable digital library of Catholic documents: one of the largest collections of Catholic documents divided into 39 categories ranging from "Academic" and "Apologetics" to "Youth". Access to more than 6,000 documents (including Papal Encyclicals, writings of the Saints and Church Fathers) has proved invaluable for students, seminarians, catechists, and all who wish to explore the Catholic heritage.
- Thousands of EWTN Television and Radio programmes are available on demand.
- Live streaming of EWTN's Television and Radio.
- Live schedules for all EWTN's Television and Radio services.
How many viewers and listeners does EWTN have?
We do not know how many viewers tune in to EWTN. The only way we can answer this is by stating in how many countries EWTN is down-linked by cable TV operators, IPTV, broadcast television stations, and "Direct Broadcast Satellite" (DBS) which is also referred to as "Direct to Home" (DTH) service. Our Cable TV, IPTV and DBS/DTH affiliates inform us of their subscriber numbers, so we know the numbers of households, that EWTN reaches.
As of January 2015 EWTN is available in 238 million households in more than 140 countries and territories worldwide. The shortwave radio station and satellite-delivered AM/FM radio network reach many millions more and this does not count those millions around the world who visit EWTN’s principal website www.ewtn.com or the network’s websites in other countries.
What are the various types of programming that EWTN provides?
EWTN provides a rich variety of programming intended for each generation in a Catholic family. EWTN's programming philosophy is in accordance with the teaching of the Magisterium. Principal categories include:
- Daily Mass and Devotions
- Exploration of the Faith: teaching series and round table discussions series, given and guided by noted theologians
- Documentaries, Drama, Concerts
- Live Call-in Talk Shows
- Children and Young Adults Programmes
- Church/Papal Events: extensive live coverage of Papal visits, celebrations and solemnities from the Vatican, including the weekly Papal audience, and major Church events
- Global Catholic News, including summaries from the Vatican, features and interviews
Who produces programmes offered on EWTN?
EWTN produces approximately 75% of its programmes. Other programmes - e.g. documentaries, plays and films, and musical concerts - are acquired from producers around the world. All out-of-house productions are screened by the Theology Department of EWTN to ensure their conformity with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
What do members of other Christian denominations think about EWTN?
The correspondence, which EWTN receives from members of traditional mainstream Protestant churches, is most gratifying. These viewers appreciate that, while EWTN is intended for Catholic families, it offers programming that is profound in both its solid theology and cultural content, and wide in its variety. Letters and emails received from viewers of non-Christian faiths show they are satisfied with the way in which EWTN portrays the Catholic faith, which helps them understand the tenets of the teachings of the Catholic Church. The depth of resources for research, which are available on EWTN's website, has also caused favourable comment.
Distribution of EWTN Programmes
Can one record EWTN programmes on DVD, videotape or audiocassettes?
One may record EWTN television and radio programmes to be used at prayer groups, Bible study groups, or simply to show at gatherings of friends and family. However, these recordings may not be sold or used for any commercial purpose.
Can one purchase EWTN programmes in the UK and EU?
Visit the online Religious Catalogue or call (+44) (0)20 8350 2542.
EWTN's Status in the UK
Does EWTN have a licence to broadcast in the UK?
EWTN's License, originally issued by ITC and amended by Ofcom under the Communications Act of 2003, permits it to re-broadcast its signal from the UK. The programming, however, is generated from EWTN's studios at its headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, and re-broadcast to a European satellite from UK soil.
Does EWTN have a legal presence in the UK?
Friends of EWTN have established a registered charity in the UK to promote EWTN here. The name of the charity is St. Clare Media (EWTN) Ltd., Charity No. 1080782. Address: P.O. Box 913, Enfield, EN2 0WY, Tel: 020 8350 2542. Email: email@example.com
Needs of EWTN in the UK
What are some of the ongoing financial needs of EWTN in the UK?
- Funds are needed to cover the operational costs, promotional materials, and services offered by the charity St. Clare Media (EWTN), to promote awareness of EWTN throughout the UK.
- Funds to film and to expand production of UK programmes and documentaries.
- Funds to donate equipment to religious houses, clergymen, residences of the elderly, schools, etc.
Donations to EWTN in the UK
Can donations be given in the UK to EWTN?
EWTN is funded by donations. As EWTN's global reach and programming requirements continue to expand and diversify, so too do its related costs. Your donation becomes a vital link to allow the Eternal Word to be spread from country to country. You can donate here.
What about those wishing to donate from outside of the UK?
Donations in US dollars or Euros can be sent to EWTN; 5817 Old Leeds Road; Irondale, AL 35210; USA. Donations can also be made online using the secure form found on EWTN's web page here.