Making SatLink See the Light
Company engineer's principles led to lucrative deal with religious programmers
By David Tanklefsky -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/8/2010 12:02:00 AM
Shehady was working in Tel Aviv at the time as chief engineer at SatLink, a leading satellite communications teleport operator. "I am very religious," Shehady, a Christian, explains. "I pray every day with my family, and I'm living in a religious community." So when SatLink added an adult programming channel to its roster, Shehady told his boss that despite the possible financial hardships, he could not work for the company anymore.
"I don't need your money," Shehady says he told his boss. "I cannot press play and [have] this content go from my hand to Europe and Asia and the Middle East...I cannot do this."
Shehady's boss was practical. "He had told me that as a businessman, he would be happy to get rid of the adult channel as long as another channel would replace it." Shehady, who understood the growing potential of broadcasting religious content and channels from the Holy Land, reached out to the CEO of Christian broadcast channel Jesus TV and secured a deal.
Since then, SatLink has dismissed adult channels and, with Shehady moving to a full-time marketing position, recruited 16 religious programmers. Among them are U.S.-based clients such as God's Learning Channel, Daystar Network, The Hope Network and the Gospel Music Television Network. Through SatLink, most of these networks reach viewers in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
The results are enlightening. In 2009, Shehady brought in 10 Christian channels, and SatLink ranked fifth among all teleport-operating companies in year-over-year growth, according to the World Teleport Association.
"Everybody at SatLink was shocked," Shehady says. "God helped me to bring Christian channels [to the company]." And the company added a hearty "amen" to that.
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