Despite the Family Channel's adherence to a salutary set of broadcast standards in its original programming, there are media watchdogs who charge that the cable network is not the model of wholesome, family-oriented programming it intends to be.
The National Council for Families and Television refused to comment on the Family Channel because no one there watches it. Another group that has closely monitored the network is not pleased.
"We are aware that the Family Channel continues to show a large number of violent cowboy Westerns," said Thomas Radecki, founder of the National Coalition on Television Violence.
"In episode after episode they present children with fantasies of violence. We met with the Family Channel several years ago. But when we talked to (Family Channel President and CEO) Tim Robertson and his panel, we really weren't able to convince them to change their programming format. At the time, we were requesting them to drop their most profitable programs. Some people say the old initials (CBN) really stood for the Cowboy Broadcasting Network."
The Family Channel still runs blocks of Westerns on Saturdays and Sundays.
"The Family Channel also picks up violent series right off television," he said. " 'Young Riders' was a violent program we were protesting on secular network television. These programs make a mistake by teaching millions of young American children to hit back, that violence is the best way to solve problems, and it's just not so."
One political group has problems with the Family Channel's religious affiliations. Mike Hudson, vice president of People for the American Way, a national civil liberties organization, said: "Our major focus is on the political nature of 'The 700 Club' using the channel for promoting and selling time only to right-wing politicians.
"The right wing constantly complains about the traditional media being biased. But the news programming Pat Robertson does on the channel couldn't get any more biased. For the last six or eight months he's been using the Family Channel as a bull pit to attack the National Endowment for the Arts. He's editorializing in the disguise of a news program.
"The danger is it leads the flock astray. It's a dangerous mix of religion and politics."