By Kaelanne Jordan
Trinity Television marked nine years as a 24/7 Catholic cable television station Thursday, September 8.
Station Manager Lisa Bhajan told Catholic News that with many persons still working from home, and not having a full staff cohort present at any one time at the studio, “we did not celebrate this year. Next year will be ten years, so we will plan for a proper celebration.”
Trinity TV broadcasts in Trinidad, Barbados, St Vincent and The Grenadines, St Lucia, and Jamaica through FLOW. This communications ministry seeks to bring positive transformation of lives through a variety of inspirational programming in its promotion of its vision for the local Church.
Bhajan recalled that the station’s first programme, besides the Mass, was Trinity Update, a magazine-style show that broadcasted every Tuesday morning. Then there was Divine Mercy and soon after Alphabet Heaven, a kids show.
Trinity Television was the vision of Living Water Community’s (LWC) co-founder and director, Rhonda Maingot, to establish a cable television station in 1993. At that time, Bhajan explained, then Fr Jason Gordon was a household member of LWC, and he was given “the lead to develop this communications ministry.”
“Before that, we had an arrangement with EWTN to place our local content on their channel. However, this had limitations. For example, EWTN justifiably would not want us to cover their prime-time spots and then there would be irregularities when their programming hours would change during the period of Daylight-Saving Time,” Bhajan explained. It was also becoming more difficult for the network to meet the demands of the local Church and to offer the flexibility required.
The network applied to the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) for their own channel which was granted in 2013. This meant it was now possible to broadcast 24/7 and to have total autonomy over their programming.
“I should mention, that because of our long-standing relationship with EWTN, we received ‘affiliate’ status with them which gives us the authorisation to pull and place their programming content within our broadcast schedule,” Bhajan said.
Bhajan, a freelance artist at the time, created the Trinity Television logo. She was also asked to help on occasion with sets and in other creative areas. On one such occasion, the team was short of a camera operator while shooting Trinity Update. “They asked me to jump in,” Bhajan said. That was, she shared, her initiation and the first time she had ever looked through the lens of a video camera.
Bhajan was also invited to attend some camera training sessions with Christopher Laird, founder of Gayelle, the Channel. There, she learnt how to frame and become creative with moving images.
She then attended the first ever Caribbean School for Catholic Communications and learnt about production from then Fr Miles O’Brien Riley and Sr Angela Ann Zukowski MHSH. As she got more interested in production, Bhajan began working part-time at Trinity Television.
“Fr Jason then gave me a crash course in editing on a computer – another technical instrument that I had never touched! I remember it was a music video – ‘Praise the Trinity’ by Winston Garcia…” Bhajan said.
Evolution of Trinity TV
Finding the necessary balance between television and the digital world, between the tangible and the virtual, Trinity Television naturally expanded into the internet sphere developing its website, creating an internet radio station, and branching out on social media platforms.
It soon became Trinity Communications Network (TCN). As the network launched its 24/7 channel, it rebranded the television station to Trinity TV and its internet radio was Trinity Radio. However, TCN stayed as the overarching name encompassing the full spectrum of this communications ministry.
“Over the year, we have adapted to keep abreast with the ever-evolving online ecological system. Our channel is live streamed on our website, www.tcn-tt.com and many of our shows are also on Facebook live and YouTube. We have also launched an LWC Mobile App which features Trinity TV,” Bhajan said.
From a technical aspect, the network has made many upgrades which has brought its visual quality to HD standard. They have transformed the Living Water Chapel to a media-friendly space, outfitting it with unobtrusive robotic cameras, built-in lighting, and a hi-resolution projector.
MASS AT THE LWC CHAPEL CAN BE VIEWED DAILY AT 12 NOON (local time)
The network also acquired a panel-van, converted it to a mobile unit and upgraded its Master Control Room.
“We have established that our network is at the service of the local and Caribbean Church and as such we have created a platform for showcasing of events and activities…. Most of all, we have been consistent in providing moral and spiritual nourishment for our viewers and have grown our audience worldwide.”
Asked to describe her journey thus far with the network, Bhajan responded, “Well our tagline is ‘That you may have life!’ so the journey has been life-giving. That about sums it up,” she told Catholic News.
Commenting on her most memorable moment of her tenure, Bhajan quipped, “Wow…. too many to mention.”
She mentioned from the overseas experiences: rubbing shoulders with “the top TV networks”, to covering bishops’ ordinations … “and making it possible for viewers at home to participate”.
According to Bhajan, giving life and sustaining life is not without growing pains, bumps, and obstacles.
“God has been faithful to us and has provided us with generous benefactors to sustain this ministry but in order to really expand and to offer the kind of top-quality programming costs much more than our benefactors can provide.”
The challenge, she underscored, is to weigh the network’s priority needs and walk in faith that “we can get by with what we have”.
Bhajan revealed there is constant wear and tear on equipment. As technology advances from HD to UHD and 4K, their limited editing systems need to be upgraded. Staff, she said needs to be trained in utilising new systems.
Bhajan opined that the pandemic certainly taught them adaptability. “Even before it actually got to the ‘lockdown’ stage, we had begun to prepare for the worse-case scenario. ‘What if we cannot get to our studio?’ We immediately decided that the most important thing was to ensure we could still have daily Mass.”
The network set up a studio at Archbishop’s Chapel and another at the residence of one of the LWC household members and worked out remote access to its Master Control Room. Apart from the Mass, the network introduced special rosaries to pray for those affected by Covid-19.
“We did a series called ‘We Are Here’ to allow parish priests to communicate with their faithful. It was a time when in the TV world we say ‘we had the eyeballs’ of a whole new audience and Trinity TV became their lifeline keeping them connected and enriched.
Bhajan said that the pandemic had another “positive effect” in that many who were not “technically savvy” before, have learnt.
“It has been our dream that as more groups and individuals develop their production skills, they would become content-providers and supply Trinity TV with a variety of programming that would truly reflect our diversity, creativity and richness,” she said.
Bhajan added that the network is looking into upgrading its studios to become a more modern digital space and to be able to more easily connect with content-providers from outside locations.
“In all these ways, Trinity TV contributes significantly in training and development and remains connected to the digital pulse of Catholic social communications,” she said.