TCA 2016: “Nothing about our name change affects our relationship with ‘The 700 Club,’” network president Tom Ascheim says
ABC Family will change its name to Freeform Tuesday. But though the network is shedding pat of its family-friendly legacy, one piece of its past is sticking around.
The network will continue to broadcast televangelist Pat Robertson’s “The 700 Club” after the rebranding is complete. ABC Family began life as part of Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network before being sold to Fox and, later, Disney. The network is contractually obligated to continue to broadcast the the show.
“Nothing about our name change affects our relationship with ‘The 700 Club,'” network preside Tom Ascheim said at a TCA panel Saturday. Asked whether that meant that the network would carry Robertson’s show forever, Ascheim answered, “Forever’s such a long time.”
CBN issued a statement to the website Vulture last week saying “The 700 Club will continue to air on Freeform. It was part of a longstanding agreement that was made when Disney first acquired the network.”
A spokesperson for CBN told the site, “‘The 700 Club’ will continue to air now and in perpetuity on the network, no matter what the name.”
“I think perpetuity sounds a lot like forever,” Ascheim said. “I have a hard time imagining that far ahead but for the moment we are stable and we will see where we go.”
Robertson has for decades used “The 700 Club” as a platform from which to promote his strict, socially conservative worldview. ABC Family’s original programming has, especially in recent years, projected a more inclusive attitude, featuring young gay characters on shows like “The Fosters” and “Pretty Little Liars.”
“We don’t actually talk to them a whole lot about our programming strategy,” Ascheim said when asked if CBN has ever expressed displeasure with the network’s programming. “We update them every so often. I imagine they would have made different choices.