Each week Durham Pastor Ronnie Northam, Jr. of Faith Community Church preaches to his congregation of more than 120-members. But he believes he's reaching a lot more on television.
"Even one time I was in the grocery store and one of the person, the daughter heard my voice and she hit her grandmother and said...That's him," Northam said.
But due to changes in the rules covering public access TV, changes allowing programmers to re-coup cost, Faith Community Church and other churches could watch their broadcast disappear.
Earlier this month the programs were taken off. After a meeting, the programs were returned to Durham cable Channel 8, but city leaders say it's just until the end of the month. Area pastors aren't happy and a petition urging Durham leaders to keep religious programming on the cable access station is being circulated. "It gives you an opportunity if you're not a large budget ministry and you don't have a lot of money. You're able to put toward television ministry. It gives you an opportunity to reach, and it takes off some of those limitations with Channel 8 broadcasting," Northam explained.
Some of the problems include staff and equipment. It's expensive, and the city says they don't have the money to support the programming - at least, not enough to accommodate 40-public access providers.
City officials say they're working on a compromise, but add that if the programs continue to cost – a cost will likely be involved. "I believe that if we had a small fee it wouldn't hurt," Northam said. "I think it would still have an opportunity. I think other persons would use it as an opportunity and a medium for getting a message to the masses."
Religious programming will continue on Channel 8 through the end of the month.