CatholicTV broadcasts programming relevant to Catholic viewers, including live religious services, talk shows, devotional programs, educational series, entertainment, and children's programs. The network regularly presents coverage of liturgies and special events at the Vatican and during papal journeys.
As of 2016, the president of the CatholicTV Network is Bishop Robert P. Reed.
The first program of the Catholic Television Center of the Archdiocese of Boston was produced on the morning of January 1, 1955 when Archbishop Richard J. Cushing celebrated a Pontifical Low Mass in studios at 25 Granby Street near Kenmore Square in Boston. From that studio, equipped with three RCA TK31 cameras, the Center produced live and tape-recorded programs, and it purchased time from local commercial television stations to air the Sunday Mass each week. Live programs were transmitted to the broadcasting stations through a leased-line telephone connection. In 1961 the Catholic Television Center's studios became the temporary home of educational broadcaster WGBH-TV when that station's studios were destroyed in a fire.
In 1957 the Catholic Television Center acquired a license to operate its own broadcasting station in Boston on channel 38 in the new UHF range of television channels. It adopted the call sign WIHS, and put WIHS-TV into service on October 12, 1964, with transmitting facilities on the Prudential Tower in Boston. It was the first full-time Catholic television station in the world employing a general entertainment format along with the daily and Sunday Mass. On July 27, 1966, Storer Broadcasting acquired WIHS for $2,276,513.16 and renamed it as WSBK-TV.
With funds from the station sale, the Catholic Television Center built an Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) system for distributing programs to Catholic schools, and it continued to produce live broadcasts of the Sunday Mass under the name Boston Catholic Television (BCTV). In 1970 BCTV moved into leased studios at 55 Chapel Street in Newton, Massachusetts.
In April 1983 BCTV began offering programs to home viewers several hours a day through its own channel carried by cable television providers, at first in Massachusetts, then elsewhere in New England, and also as far away as Montreal, Quebec. In addition to the Sunday Mass broadcast on conventional (over-the-air) television, weekday Masses were also presented Monday to Friday, originating from a chapel in the Archbishop's residence in Brighton.
In 2006 the channel adopted the brand name CatholicTV and the slogan America's Catholic Television Network. By 2007 it had entered into a programming exchange agreement with the Canadian channel Salt + Light Television. The channel converted its video format to HDTV on October 13, 2010.
CatholicTV programming is seen on cable systems in Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is broadcast in Fresno, CA on KNXT, channel 50 and in Hawaii on KUPU, channel 15. CatholicTV is available to satellite television viewers via the digital C band satellite AMC-11. Internet users can view the channel through the web site catholictv.com, or with applications for iOS or Android mobile devices. Internet video is also available through the streaming media devices Roku, Google TV, and Apple TV. Select programs are available for download at iTunes. Video-on-demand service is available on Roku and Apple TV (nationally) and Verizon FiOS in most markets.
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