A man who became a familiar presence on television as the face of the world’s largest Christian TV network has died. The New York Times reports that Paul Crouch, who founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network and grew it into a huge Christian television network, died at 79.
The network said Crouch had suffered for a decade from a degenerative heart disease.
Crouch, who founded Trinity with his wife, Janice, expanded the network from one station in California to thousands, but he came under criticism for excessive spending, the story notes. His granddaughter last year accused the network of financial improprieties.
The company expanded quickly after the couple bought their first station, KTBN-TV in Santa Ana, as they looked to technology such as satellite broadcasting as a means to reach more people, the story says. TBN currently airs on 84 satellite channels and more than 18,000 TV and cable affiliates.
Programming includes sermons from preachers such as Joel Osteen, while Crouch until recently hosted a show called “Behind the Scenes” and earlier this year interviewed former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
The company also owns the Orlando, Fla., theme park Holy Land Experience.