I was pretty excited to hear that a channel dedicated solely to Atheist-related programming debuted on July 29th, 2014. I had heard some rumblings about it for a couple of weeks before, but I don’t think I really paid any attention to it until I heard about its impending launch on a podcast I listen to, Atheists on Air.
For those who have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about, Atheist TV is a channel sponsored American Atheists, the organization started by the controversial Atheist figure Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Right now, it’s only available on the Roku streaming video device and through a live feed at the Atheist TV website. As for their programming, the statement on the website explains:
Featuring content from the Richard Dawkins Foundation (including interviews, speeches, and educational programming), the Atheist Community of Austin (producers of The Atheist Experience), American Atheists, the Reason Rally, and stand up comedians, AtheistTV brings hundreds of hours of programming to one place. As the channel matures, AtheistTV will begin producing and airing original content exclusive to AtheistTV. We are already working with Emmy-nominated producer Liz Bronstein, executive producer of Whale Wars, and Paul Provenza, executive producer of The Aristocrats and Showtime’s The Green Room with Paul Provenza.
I loved The Aristocrats, and I’m hoping Provenza can bring some of that magic to this endeavor as well. So while the content is a bit thin right now, I’m hoping that this will catch on with Atheists, and those curious about Atheism, and that they will be able to broaden their palate of Atheist content. The reach of the network concerns me, as it is only available online and on the Roku. If they produce quality programming, however, there is no reason they can’t succeed. Hell, The Young Turks is an online news show, and it’s gotten millions of hits on its YouTube Channel.
Even more important, however, is the door this could open to Atheism education in the larger American culture. People generally fear what they don’t understand, and this could show the population that Atheists don’t eat babies, and that we’re a bunch immoral misanthropes. We could follow the LGBTQ model and really show people that we’re normal individuals just trying to live our lives. Just look at the progress this country has made in the marriage equality arena if you want to see how quickly attitudes can change.
I am generally a skeptical person, so I’m not going to predict some massive sea change overnight; but if this channel does even moderately well, we may see other outlets for Atheism in the media, and perhaps one day even have a presence in the vaunted heights of cable and satellite lineups.