Impact Network partners with DIRECTV to become largest Black-owned faith-based network

Bishop Wayne T. Jackson and wifeMillions tune in for inspirational programming and employment opportunities
Before 2010 there was not an African American Christian-owned television network in the country or the world. But if you look at the black community which is historically faith driven, the faithful were left to find religious programming through laborious channel surfing and hit or miss programming. Worse still black preachers were at the mercy of mainstream networks who were prone to pull the plug on their Sunday morning shows for reasons as simple as personal disagreements and as complex as racial and religious oppression.
“Our community is faith driven. Our history is formed and developed behind the pulpit,” explains Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, founder and CEO of Impact Network, which features urban ministry programming and spiritual lifestyle entertainment. “Anytime we wanted to [air] broadcasts, we always had to go to other people to get our ministries shown to television audiences.”
But Jackson, with the assistance of broadcast programming veteran Terry Arnold, former president and CEO of Bell Broadcasting Company (WCHB and WJZZ), has struck an unprecedented alliance with AT&T’s DIRECTV and on Nov. 30 extended the Impact Network family of programs with a launch on the multi-channel platform. Planned programming includes religious shows hosted by Bishop Wayne T. Jackson and Bishop T.D. Jakes. Also returning to the small screen will be Bobby Jones, who recently ended his 35-year gospel show run with BET.
Jackson admits that while the Impact Networks partnership with DIRECTV is a monumental achievement, it is not the first partnership of its kind for the fledgling network. “In 2011, we were able to partner with Dish Network, which gave us a much broader national audience covering the continental United States. Then we got with Comcaste which gave us Michigan, Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana,” explains Jackson. Impact Network would go on to strike similar deals with the Bahamas and African nations, and put faith-based programs in 950 million households worldwide, a real coup d’état for African American Christian television. The addition of DIRECTV access adds 20 million more viewing households to Impact Network’s viewing audience. Minority- and women-owned broadcasts represents only five percent of all broadcast currently airing in the United States.
“This was a wonderful development for AT&T to recognize this need for diversity in their broadcasting,” says Jackson. “I am a firm believer that lives are changed through what we see and what we hear … and we are responsible for what we bring on the air to impact individuals who are our viewers. That’s why we call it the Impact Network,” adds the entrepreneurially spirited ecclesiastic.
Jackson readily admits that initially there was some discussion about basing the network’s headquarters in the suburbs, but almost instantly brushed aside the temptation to move to more comfortable digs and keep the network based in Detroit. “We are helping to power the revitalization of Detroit. While we have Dan Gilbert, Roger Penske and Mike Illitch who are doing great things our city, there are African Americans doing great things in Detroit, and we are going to tell those stories.”
In addition to gospel programming, the Impact Network will provide educational and life skills development programming along with family-oriented health and fitness shows, financial wellbeing programming and lifestyle and entertainment fare.
“We are the fastest-growing independent Black-owned faith-based network in the country, and this platform with DIRECTV gives us the opportunity to be the foremost, innovative Christian television network domestically and abroad with exclusive programming,” continues Jackson.
Local power brokers concur with Jackson’s assessment of the network’s potential impact on the broadcasting landscape.
“We are extremely proud that Detroit is home to what is now the largest African American owned Christian television network,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “What Bishop Jackson has done to grow the Impact Network is truly remarkable. Not only will this expansion bring the Impact Network’s message to a much larger audience, it will create new jobs in our city for Detroit residents.”
“As America’s only African American owned and operated Christian television network, the Impact Network is in a unique position to empower its community and promote opportunities for minorities in the television industry,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) in a written statement. “I applaud the hard work that has contributed to the [network’s] success, as well as its role in sharing the spirit of Detroit’s faith community with individuals across the United States ad throughout the world.”
Bishop Jackson expressed that the number of new jobs to be created had not yet been finalized, but most will be on-camera and behind-the-scenes positions for local residents.
Impact Network is now broadcasting 24-hours a day, seven days a week and can be viewed on DIRECTV’s channel 380 or on channel 268, DISH Network Channel 268 and Comcast Xfinity channel 400. Check local listing in your area.

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