CBN Revamps “The 700 Club″
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) _ The Rev. Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network unveiled a revamped ″The 700 Club″ show Monday, featuring Robertson’s son as a co-host and a new $60,000 set decorated in a Southwestern motif.
″It was really time for a change,″ Terry Heaton, the show’s producer, said after the first broadcast. ″It’s a breath of fresh air for us.″
Timothy B. Robertson, who replaced his father as a co-host of the religious talk show, said ″The 700 Club″ was overhauled with limited resources to keep the program from stagnating.
The Christian Broadcasting Network has been hurt recently by evangelical scandals and Pat Robertson’s venture into presidential politics.
Contributions to the Virginia Beach-based network have fallen more than 20 percent this year compared with 1986, when CBN raised a record $130 million, said Tim Roberton, the network’s president.
″We’re going to be very happy if we hit $100 million,″ in 1987, he said.
Robertson said network officials had braced for a 10 percent cut in contributions because of his father’s interest in the Republican presidential nomination.
But he added that officials were unprepared for the backlash against television evangelists that came with reports that Rev. Jim Bakker paid hush money to conceal an extramartial affair and a claim by Rev. Oral Roberts that he would die unless he raised $8 million.
The network laid off 470 employees in June. At the same time, the Robertsons told viewers they projected a $28 million loss by the end of 1987.
Heaton said Pat Robertson may appear occasionally as a guest on ″The 700 Club.″ He made his farewell appearance as a co-host on Aug. 14.
Tim Robertson was joined Monday as a co-host by Ben Kinchlow, a program regular for 12 years, and Susan Howard, former actress on CBS-TV’s ″Dallas.″