A Vatican-endorsed TV news service will attempt to bring to the video age the same style of church-friendly reporting associated with the Zenit News Agency, an on-line project launched in 1998 with ties to Regnum Christi, the lay branch of the Legionaries of Christ.
The new “H2O” broadcast service – named, organizers say, for water as the symbol of life – is intended as a video news source available through the Internet, on cell phones with video capability, as well as through conventional Catholic television networks. The project was formally presented at an Oct. 10-12 world conference of Catholic television providers in Madrid, Spain, convened by the Vatican.
Initially, plans call for “H2O,” with offices in Rome, to produce five daily news items of one and a half to two minutes each: two on the activity of the pope, two on the church in other parts of the world, and one of artistic and cultural interest. Interviews with Catholic newsmakers and, to the extent possible, overviews of new Vatican documents will also be part of the mix.
The news items will be free of charge to Catholic TV networks which choose to broadcast them, and to Internet users. Initially, “H2O” will emphasize delivery on the Internet, attempting to reach the estimated 20 million users of Catholic web sites worldwide.
Organizers say they will try to take a positive approach.
“We won’t go looking for polemics,” said Jesús Colina, a Spaniard who founded and currently serves as director of Zenit, and who has been asked by the Vatican to oversee the new video project.
“That’s my personal style, and it’s what we follow at Zenit,” said Colina, a member of Regnum Christi.
The idea for a video version of Zenit’s text-based news service, which is offered daily to some 240,000 subscribers on five continents, was the brainchild of Monsignor Enrique Planas y Como of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Planas asked Colina to oversee the project.
Though “H2O” carries the formal backing of the Vatican, and the Vatican Television Center will provide some content, Colina told NCR that “H2O” will be independent and financially self-sustaining. Assuming that funding can be found, organizers intend to provide a couple of “trial run” packages in January, with the full service to debut in March.
The news items are to be released in English, Spanish, Italian, French and German, though Colina told NCR these plans are subject to review based on market interest. Colina said he’d also like to broadcast in Arabic, but those plans are more tentative.
Colina told NCR Nov. 14 that while content can be produced by anyone, “H2O” intends to take advantage of Zenit’s existing network of contributors and correspondents around the world.
H20? Sounds like a odd choice for a name, but I guess something like popeTube wouldn’t be much better. Perhaps trueTube. Regardless it will be nice to finally get video from the Vatican.