SOARING 45 metres above Sunset Boulevard in the centre of Hollywood stands a communications tower adorned with two triangles and a stylised “S”.
The logo belongs to the controversial Church of Scientology and is being used as branding for the religion’s new hi-tech media complex known as Scientology Media Productions (SMP), which has been created to act as an “uncorrupted communication line to the billions”.
Speaking to more than 10,000 Scientologists at the unveiling of the complex, church leader David Miscavige said the global media centre would be used to combat biased media reports and allow for the delivery of “unadulterated and pure” teachings of the religion.
“As the saying goes, if you don’t write your own story, someone else will,” he said.
“We’re now going to be writing our story like no other religion in history. And it’s all going to happen right here from Scientology Media Productions.”
Originally built in 1912 and situated on a five-acre complex near the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood boulevards, the motion picture and television studio has been restored for Scientology to create and deliver content across print, broadcast and online media.
Fitted with state-of-the-art sound stages, visual effects production areas, editing suites and audio recording and mixing studios with foreign language translation and dubbing capabilities, the production house has been described as the most modern and sophisticated digital media facility of its kind on the planet.
Mr Miscavige said Scientology Media Productions would bean invaluable asset in helping spread the message of the new-age religion.
“It’s a history L Ron Hubbard himself laid into Scientology — to share what wisdom we possess, to help others to help themselves. And, what goes with the territory: to ignore the catcalls from those who claim that man cannot be understood, cannot be helped,” he said.
“But, we know different. We know man can be helped. And even more than that, we know how to do it.”
The leader added it had long been the church’s quest to create its own media centre.
“This facility represents the final component of an interlocking system for our global Scientology communications,” he said.
Using unattributed statistics in his speech, Mr Miscavige detailed how developing online content for Scientology would help attract new members.
“The average young adult spends 10 hours of every day on the internet, and someone searches for ‘the meaning of life’ every five seconds, while someone else searches for answers about ‘spirituality’ six times per second,” he said.
“SMP will harness the power of every social media outlet imaginable to provide those answers.”
This belief was furthered by claims that creating exclusive broadcast material would have a similar effect.
“Ninety-five per cent of the world’s population listens to the radio every day and the average viewer spends some 40 hours glued to a TV every week,” he said.
“[This means] the obvious answer was: our own radio station, our own TV channel, and our own broadcasting facilities.”
Scientology was founded by American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1953 and is a religious system based on seeking self-knowledge and spiritual fulfilment through graded courses.
Converts are taught that humans are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature, with members believing they are reincarnated aliens who used to live on other planets.
At the centre of these teaching is the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” known as Xenu.
Since its emergence, Scientology has been described as a cult that traps members through brainwashing and exploitation techniques.
These claims were the focus of 2015 documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which revealed abuses and strange practices within the controversial organisation.
Scientology is notorious for getting on the front foot when it comes to dealing with its critics and the media — and the new production centre will allow it to counter critical messages more effectively.
The new studio will also act as the editorial headquarters of Freedom magazine — a Scientology propaganda publication.
The grand opening of Scientology Media Productions is the latest wave of expansion for the church, which started more than a decade ago.
Scientology’s first efforts to expand came with the 1993 establishment of Bridge Publication — the world’s largest all-digital and print-on-demand facilities created for the sole purpose of making the work of religion founder, L Ron Hubbard, available across the globe.
This was followed with the creation of Scientology’s cutting edge, 17,000sq m printing and distribution operation in Los Angeles, known as the International Dissemination and Distribution Centre.
Next came the church’s first-class film studio where all Scientology training films were produced and filmed.
However, the creation of the Scientology Media Productions is the biggest investment to date.
Mr Miscavige said he believed the production house was a major gift for the community.
“We also open our doors to humanitarian organisations, charities and religions of every denomination in Los Angeles,” he said.
“Our facilities will be open for all manner of community events, telethons, religious programming of all faiths, you name it.”
Los Angeles City Film and TV Office director Kevin James echoed the sentiments of the church while speaking at the event.
“From a city and public safety perspective, I admire your dedication to be such a great partner at the ground level. I have also grown to admire the professionalism and willingness with which you approach your relationship with us, the City of Los Angeles,” he said.
“You are prepared to be a city partner. And that means a lot. But, with this new studio that we’re celebrating today, I’d say we’re taking our partnership to a whole new level.”
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