“I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the earth”
– Revelation revealed to the Promised Messiah (a.s), 1898.
Having millions of audience across the globe is not a small feat. Having a loyal enraptured and satisfied audience cutting accross all ages and races is a miracle. Yet, MTA International has done it. And this too in 25 years! What is more? Operations of this television channel since its inception has been over ninety percent done by volunteers. What is even more surprising is that most of its staff had little or no knowledge about running a television channel and its operations when they started. The Chairman, Nasir Ahmad stated that ” I was no more qualified than anyone else”.
In line with logic, this venture should have failed. It is like going into the sea without knowing how to swim. But against all odds, here it is 25 years later bigger, better and still expanding rapidly.
How is this possible? Simply put, it is Divine Grace. A fulfilment of the revelation revealed to the Promised Messiah that his message shall reach even the farthest corners of the earth. Almighty Allah does not speak in vain. This is one of the beautiful manifestations of His words.
To truly appreciate the growth of MTA International, let us take a look at its history. MTA International was launched for the first time as Ahmadiyya Muslim Presentation on the 31st of January, 1992 under the leadership of the fourth Khalifah, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. It was established with the purpose of broadcasting the Friday Sermons to Ahmadis accross the world. Later, other programmes were added to cover a four hour schedule, then twelve hours and finally twenty four hours. These programmes were produced and broadcasted to build a bond between the Khalifah and his followers, enhance spirituality of the viewers and tackle misunderstood concepts such as Jihad and role of women in Islam and society. Summarily, it is the answer to the wrong narrative broadcast by mainstream media to the world. And what a brilliant one!
When the channel was launched on January 1st,1994 as MTA International, it became the first non-profit, twenty four hour international Muslim channel to broadcast a host of Islamic programmes. The programmes were translated to different languages among which are Swahili, French, Bengali and others. This was to cater for the variety of audience speaking the different languages.
By 7th January 2004, daily transmission of programmes began with the broadcast area focused on Asia, Europe, North America, Central America and South America. Currently, the number of programmes have expanded to include Bustan-e-Waqfe Nau and Gulshan-e-Waqfe Nau, Faith Matters (one of my favourites), Rah-e-Huda, Shotter Shondane among others.
On April 23rd 2004, MTA2 (MTA Ath-Thania) was launched with the broadcast area focused on Europe and parts of Africa below the Sahel region. The first one was then renamed MTA1 (MTA Al-Ula). Unlike MTA1, MTA 2 was established under the leadership of the fifth Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, as the fourth one was deceased. Its programmes are similar to that of MTA .
The 23rd of March 2007 witnessed the launch of MTA 3 with broadcast area focused on the Middle East, North Africa and North America.
The latest addition, MTA Africa 1 and 2,was launched on 1st of August, 2016 with satellite studios in Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The thrust of the programmes of these channels are on documentaries of African cultures and heritage, talk shows on current affairs and social issues, interfaith programmes and special events. Already, MTA Africa is showing a promise of great success with the large number of volunteers who have shown commitment towards ensuring its growth. Most of the volunteers are youths who will definitely bring in innovative and creative ideas that will be adapted to operations, contents and production. With the responsibilities of coordination and operations placed on efficient and excellent individuals like Umar Shafe (Coordinator, MTA Africa Project) and Qasim Akinreti (MTA Africa, Nigeria coordinator), there is guarantee of rapid growth. Already, a new MTA studio, Wahab Adam Studios, is almost completed in Ghana.
Currently, MTA International channels broadcast their programmes in over sixteen languages including Arabic, French, Malayalam, Swahili, Bangla, Pashto, Tamil, Russian, Turkish, Fars, Japanese, Hausa and so on. This is one of the distinguishing features of MTA from the over one hundred and sixty six religious television stations globally. Another features which distinguishes MTA is the programme contents which has over the years grown to adapt to and satisfy its global audience regardless of age, race of level of literacy.
It is not unusual for pioneers to fall behind over time due to inadequate innovation and creation that characterizes growth. However, MTA International was and still is at the forefront of technological advancement with the innovative, creative and efficient use of apps, websites and streaming of live content from popular platforms such as YouTube. This is made possible through the continuous revision of contents, operation and production methods, research on the audience as well as adaptation of knowledge gained by the staff from their job in the media industry.
There has been an International Broadcast Conference (started in 2003) to review MTA’s prrogramme contents and develop staff so as to be able to efficiently face and overcome challenges that abound in the current technology driven international broadcast field. Right now, MTA can boldly stand shoulder to shoulder with any international broadcast station. Talking about the graphics, the designs, the sound…everything. It is a source of immense pride for the Jama’at world wide and will continue to be Insha Allah.
Creating excellence for 25years with such small material for a start is a miraculous feat and there is no sign of stopping. The fifth Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, at the fourth International Broadcast Conference stated thus,
“Unquestionably, MTA is itself playing a great role in spreading the true teachinhs of Islam to all parts of the world”.
MTA International, at 25,is a testament to the fact that when Almighty Allah makes a promise, He fulfills it. Alhamdullilahi robbil alamin.
.Omoyele is a member of MTA International Africa Nigeria Studio
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