When Hosanna Broadcasting Network (HBN) officially announces the expansion of its Los Angeles-based Christian cable and satellite-television channel on Dec. 10, it will be another major step toward founder Tersit Asrat’s goal of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to underserved people of the world.
The announcement will be at HBN’s annual “Breakfast With the Clergy” at 9:30 a.m. in the LAX Westin Hotel at 5400 W. Century Blvd.
HBN is one of the largest Christian satellite radio networks broadcasting to Africa, as well as other parts of the world. Among its participating ministries is Crenshaw Christian Center, the Los Angeles-based mega-church founded by Apostle Frederick K.C. Price.
HBN TV will seek to include original family, educational and Christian programming.
Pastor Jack Hayford, founder of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast, while Angela Evans and Cheryl Price of Crenshaw Christian Center are the featured guests.
Ethiopia-born Asrat began her business career after graduating from California Polytechnic University in Pomona, with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She soon established Kyros Productions, a multicultural public relations, promotions and marketing company through which she produced national benefit concerts, conventions and festivals for such clients as Volunteers of America, Marlboro cigarettes and Pabst Brewing. From there she entered a partnership with Artesa, a media planning and buying service, catering to the Hispanic, African-American, European and Asian markets.
She also established the Universal Media Group, a full-service marketing company with such clients as Nordstrom, Blue Cross of California and Sumitomo Bank of California. The company reportedly was billing up to $1.3 million annually, after only eight years before it collapsed in 1998.
Although at a low point careerwise, a new job required Asrat to meet with WorldSpace Satellite Company, a satellite radio company, in Washington, D.C., to pitch coverage of a soccer game. The owner wasn’t interested in the game, but he saw something in Asrat.
“You’re tenacious,” he told Asrat. “Why don’t you have your own channel?”
“I got excited,” she said, “because my agency was closed, and I was looking for new opportunities.
When I told him I didn’t have the capital, he offered the first year for free.”
And when she wanted Christian programming, the Muslim owner didn’t change his answer.
Unfortunately, it would take her seven years of hard-nosed rejections after meetings with reluctant pastors and the selling of her home to eventually raise the seed funds.
Today, she lays claim to being owner of the largest Christian satellite radio network in the United States. HBN’s present radio coverage includes Africa and the Middle East, with an option to expand to Asia and Europe. HBN broadcasts 24 hours of free inspirational programming for millions of the underserved people who don’t have televisions or computers.
In January, the network will launch HBN-TV broadcasting in the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.
The theme of the upcoming breakfast is “Make the Choice to Become the Voice of Jesus Christ,” said Asrat. Admission is free.
“People all over the world are looking for answers for a change for the better,” said Asrat, a naturalized American citizen. “This is an opportune time for the clergy to make the choice to be a greater voice of healing, inspiration and prosperity. We are currently seeking pre-recorded programs in studio quality. Content must be original with no repetition for seven weeks.”
HBN-TV will offer original contemporary programming featuring music, health, movies and talk show formats. But the staple of the broadcasts will be programs hosted by a diverse group of ministries from traditional Protestant and nondenominational to interdenominational and full gospel churches.
Asrat enters the cable/satellite industry at a challenging time for minorities, however. According to a New American Media report titled, “Out of the Picture 2007,” Black television station ownership dropped by 60 percent, falling from 19 to eight, making Black ownership almost nonexistent.
In addition, a look at the Comcast and NBC Universal merger reveals that none of Comcast’s 250-plus channels are 100 percent African-American owned.
But being a Black-owned inspirational network, Asrat has a different agenda and different challenges. HBN-TV will begin with ethnically and denominationally diverse programming, and being the new kid on the airwaves, the network will still have the challenge of demonstrating to pastors and producers the added value of a greater audience at a cheaper price than its competitors such as the Trinity Broadcasting Networks.
“TBN began as a UHF station in Santa Ana,” said Asrat. “We began as a satellite radio station covering of the world. We are positioned as the only 24-hour Christian radio station that covers such a wide range of geographic coverage. With HBN-TV we have potential to grow by offering an alternative to Christians in North America and the world through radio.”
For more information on the prayer breakfast, call (310) 348-9188 or visit www.hosannabroadcasting.com.