AUGUST 1, 2021
The 2020 regional convention was historic—our first global convention recorded and made available via the Internet! However, in Malawi and Mozambique, most of our brothers and sisters accessed the convention without using the Internet. How was this possible?
As an exception, the Coordinators’ and Teaching committees of the Governing Body gave approval to broadcast the convention by television and radio in Malawi and Mozambique. Why was this exception necessary? Malawi has some of the most expensive Internet data charges in the world, and therefore few Witnesses can access the Internet. As explained by William Chumbi, a member of the Malawi Branch Committee: “Radio and television were the only means of dispensing this spiritual food to the brothers and sisters.” Luka Sibeko, who also serves on the Malawi Branch Committee, adds: “If we had not been able to receive it via TV and radio, only a few brothers in our branch territory could have benefited from the convention.” In Mozambique too, few brothers could have afforded an appropriate electronic device, let alone the Internet.
Making the Arrangements
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain television and radio stations were already broadcasting congregation meetings.* Our brothers reached out to these stations and requested additional airtime to broadcast the convention.
In Malawi, our brothers faced a challenge. Usually, broadcasting stations limit customers to one hour of airtime. The stations worry that longer programs may not maintain the attention of the audience. But our brothers explained that our work is a public service. Even during lockdown, we are providing the public with access to comforting good news from the Bible, which can help people be good citizens and have a happy family life. On hearing this, the stations accepted the brothers’ request for additional airtime.
In Malawi, the convention was broadcast by one television station and one radio station, both with nationwide coverage and with the potential for reaching millions of people. In Mozambique, the convention was broadcast by one television station and 85 radio stations.
In both countries, a total of $28,227* was spent to broadcast the convention via television and almost $20,000 to broadcast via radio. The costs for radio varied from $15 for a small station to $2,777 for a nationwide station.
Our brothers worked hard to make the best use of donated funds. In Malawi, for example, they were able to negotiate lower rates, including one discount of 30 percent. These discounts saved a total of $1,711. In Mozambique, some stations were willing to lower their rate because of our good reputation for being honest and punctual with our payments.
Expressions of Gratitude
Our brothers greatly appreciated viewing or hearing the convention on local stations. Patrick, an elder from Malawi, says: “We thank the brothers of the Governing Body for their special consideration during the pandemic.” Isaac, also from Malawi, says: “We have no other devices, so we were very grateful for the special provision from Jehovah’s organization of listening to the convention over the radio. As a result of this provision, my whole family benefited from the convention. We saw this as proof of Jehovah’s love for his people.”
The 2020 convention was the first convention for one publisher in Mozambique. He says: “The arrangement to watch the convention on TV reminded me that Jehovah is the almighty God. The pandemic did not prevent him from giving us spiritual food and from serving it right in my living room. I saw evidence of the love among Jehovah’s people. I am convinced that this is the true religion.”
An elder named Wyson says: “I would like to express my thanks for the way the faithful slave has cared for us during the pandemic. This provision of having the convention broadcast via radio and TV has helped many of us who are struggling financially in this poorer part of the world to receive the program and benefit from it.”
For the 2021 regional convention, the Coordinators’ and Teaching committees have again made an exception so that the convention can be broadcast via television and radio in select communities. How do we cover the costs of broadcasting the convention in this way? By donations to the worldwide work, many of which are made via the different methods found on donate.jw.org. Thank you for your generous contributions.
Earlier in 2020, the Coordinators’ Committee approved to broadcast congregation meetings via television and radio in select locations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This provision has helped those who cannot access local congregation meetings or JW Stream because they live in communities where Internet connections and cell-phone service are not readily available or affordable. This arrangement, however, is not intended for communities that can connect to meetings with a local congregation.
All dollar amounts in this article refer to U.S. dollars.