Catholic channel may air on free TV

Paterno Esmaquel II
For the first time, a Catholic channel may air on Philippine free TV, says Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

FREE TV SOON? The Church-run TV Maria gets a government franchise as a 'full-fledged' channel, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle says. Photo by Arcel Cometa

MANILA, Philippines – Dwarfed by television stations of other religious groups, the Catholic-run TV Maria may soon air on free TV after acquiring a government franchise to run as a “full-fledged” channel.

Kung makakaya, free,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said Tuesday, August 13, in a press conference on the upcoming Philippine Conference on New Evangelization. (If we’re capable, then free.)

Tagle was responding to a question on the Catholic Church’s weak presence on Philippine TV, even if 80% of Filipinos identify themselves as Catholic.

Other religious groups, such as the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ led by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, air their programs on free TV. 

He said a station on free TV will help the church in its New Evangelization, or its aim to bring back lukewarm Catholics and attract new members to the Church.

Tagle is himself a TV preacher, hosting a regular Sunday program titled The Word Exposed and produced by Jesuit Communications.

The cardinal, however, admitted that questions about funding have come up, and said it will ultimately depend on good programming.

Kung gagandahan natin ang programming, siguro ang pagsuporta financially ng mga Katoliko ay darating din,” the cardinal said. (If we will produce good programming, perhaps the financial support of Catholics will eventually come.)

Taking media seriously

He said various religious orders involved in media, as well as other groups, have begun to meet to improve TV Maria.

On its website, TV Maria Foundation Philippines Inc identifies itself as a non-profit, non-stock religious organization of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines through the Manila Archdiocese.

It is the only Catholic channel based in the Philippines, and airs its shows on Dream Satellite’s Channel 12, Sky Cable’s Channel 160, and Global Destiny’s Channel 91.

While it struggles to maximize the media landscape, the Catholic Church has repeatedly stressed the importance of media in promoting its message.

On the 47th World Communications Day in May, for instance, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in a message prepared before his resignation, stressed the importance of online social networks.

Benedict said the Church should take social media seriously.    

“The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there,” the Pope Emeritus said. –

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at