A test satellite transmission of this weekend's general conference has the potential to reach more than 1 billion people in Central and South America and Europe - people who previously have not been able to receive the conference live - according to the man who helped arrange it.
Timothy T. Brosnahan, director of the Church's Utah Central Area Public Communications Council, said the Pan American Satellite test transmission will cover most of Central and South America and most of western Europe, including the British Isles and much of Scandinavia.As in the past, the conference messages of the First Presidency and other General Authorities in all sessions will be televised via Westar 4 and Galaxy 3 satellites to more than 2,500 meetinghouses in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Church officials emphasize that the Pan American transmission is only a test and may or may not be continued for future conferences. For the test, the Church has arranged for the transmission to be received via an earth station in Frankfurt, West Germany; in Manchester, England; and in San Jose, Costa Rica. The telecast will be shown in one location in each city, with local priesthood leaders in each location determining who may be present to view the test transmission.
However, Brosnahan, a communications engineer by profession, said anyone with access to a satellite dish and equipment could receive the transmission, provided the equipment is tuned to the proper frequency.
"These transmissions are unique," Brosnahan said, "as they will have various television broadcast standards that will allow the conference to be received in countries that have a different system than our system in the United States."
The satellite signal to Latin America will carry two languages (English and Spanish), he said, while the European feed will carry the conference in English and German.
Brosnahan arrived at his estimate of 1 billion potential viewers based on 1989 World Almanac population figures for the countries where the satellite transmission can be received.
Events leading to the test transmission of conference began last year when Brosnahan contacted Reynold V. "Rene" Anselmo, whose company owns the Pan American satellite. Brosnahan had read of Anselmo's efforts to acquire customers for his satellite service.
At Brosnahan's request, Anselmo sent a letter to Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of Church Public Communications/Special Affairs, offering to carry the conference live as a test transmission to western Europe and Latin America, free of charge to the Church.
Church officials subsequently approved the test transmission for the April general conference.