MADRID, Spain, OCT. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The birth of the Vatican Television Center in 1983 was Pope John Paul II’s decision as the Holy See did not have its own station.
That was among the details given by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office as well as director of the Vatican Television Center and director general of Vatican Radio, at the first World Congress of Catholic TV.
On Wednesday he addressed representatives of Catholic television from all over the world, who had gathered for the three-day event.
Until the birth of the Vatican Television Center (VTC), the Holy See counted on Italian radio and television, RAI, “which with great dedication had covered the main ecclesiastical events” of the first decades of the existence of public television service, acknowledged Father Lombardi.
The VTC’s growth has been slow and gradual. Its work is limited, and it is staffed by some 20 people.
“On the other hand, the idea has always been clear that the VTC should not be a broadcasting” station, explained Father Lombardi. Rather, it should “be maintained as a television production center, capable of getting and providing images of the Holy Father and of the Vatican, and furnishing them to interested television channels, whether public or private, Catholic or secular,” he said.
Consequently, the VTC’s “writing and reporting activity is minimal” and it does not require a “multilingual journalistic staff,” factor which explains “that its staff is so small,” the Jesuit noted.
Headquartered in Vatican City, the VTC has good-quality equipment and is able to do live takes, making use of up to 13 cameras simultaneously, said the priest.
It also has “some montage banks for the production of news programs and documentaries” and a “control center … from which retransmissions can be broadcast live through different ways: optic fiber, satellite channels and bridge radios which connect with other television entities, national and international, present in Rome,” Father Lombardi told his audience.
The VTC carries out 180 annual retransmissions, including papal trips; of these, some of the 10 most important are co-produced with RAI, the priest said.
These live retransmissions are centered on the Sunday Angelus, the Wednesday general audience, papal celebrations of particular relevance, such as canonizations and Masses, and other representative Vatican events.
The VTC also records and makes available images of Vatican events, such as other audiences and papal activities and activities of Vatican institutions.
Moreover, it manages the archive of images — available by previous request. It has 15,000 video tapes, the Vatican’s largest television archive.
“Attempts are being made to recuperate gradually images available in other archives,” though “images prior to 1983 are certainly scarce,” pointed out the director.
The VTC produces a 25-minute weekly program of Vatican and ecclesiastical news, in Italian and English, called “Octava Dies,” destined primarily for Catholic television stations.
Father Lombardi added that the Holy See’s television initiative also makes possible the distribution to Catholic television channels “of retransmissions of televised events that take place during the Pope’s international trips, produced by local televisions and received through the EBU/UER.”