FORT WORTH, Texas — The last vestige of a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) broadcast ministry that once had garnered an Emmy Award has been sold.
Chesapeake Energy Co. purchased the 87,966-square-foot building that housed the former Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission (RTVC) in Fort Worth.
The SBC began its broadcast ministry — the SBC Radio Commission — with “The Baptist Hour” in Atlanta in 1941. In 1955, the operation was moved to Texas, and its programming expanded.
The commission produced a variety of content, including the children's animated series, “JOT.” In 1989, the agency earned an Emmy for the documentary, “China: Walls and Bridges.”
The commission developed the American Christian Television System (ACTS) in the mid-1980s to try to increase market exposure. Soaring costs forced the commission to merge ACTS with another network. The SBC dropped out of participation in 2003.
In 1991, the commission purchased FamilyNet from Moral Majority founder and Baptist minister Jerry Falwell.
A major SBC reorganization, implemented in 1997, merged the RTVC with the denomination's Brotherhood Commission and Home Mission Board to create the North American Mission Board (NAMB). NAMB shifted some of RTVC’s work, primarily radio programming, to its Atlanta-area headquarters.
As a not-for-profit that relied primarily on SBC funding, the broadcast ministry struggled financially throughout most of its existence. NAMB streamlined the operation in 2004, reducing staff and cutting the budget by more than half. It cut radio production completely the following year.
Last year, the convention sold FamilyNet — the final broadcast operation — to In Touch Ministries for an undisclosed sum. That organization was founded by former SBC president Charles Stanley, pastor of Atlanta’s First Baptist Church.