HARLINGEN, March 8 - The general public can now, finally, view the local programming and marketing agreement now in place for KMBH-TV, the PBS station in the Rio Grande Valley.
The agreement was entered into in January by RGV Educational Broadcasting, Inc., the "licensee," and MBTV Texas Valley LLC, the "programmer." However, it was never made available to the public until now.
The 13-page document has been posted on the Federal Communications Corporation website. The last three pages have been left blank because a number of attachments have been redacted.
Click here to read the agreement.
RGV Educational Broadcasting, Inc., has run KMBH-TV for many years on behalf of the Diocese of Brownsville. It has entered into an agreement that allows MBTV to run the station while the two parties negotiate a sale.
Although MBTV is now running KMBH-TV, RGV Educational Broadcasting is responsible for compliance with FCC rules and regulations. This means RGV Educational Broadcasting must continue to maintain station logs and public inspection files. It must also respond to telephone inquiries related to station operations. The licensee is also responsible for every second of the station’s programming.
The agreement states that MBTV must broadcast the PBS feed on KMBH-TV's primary channel without commercials. It also allows MBTV a 45-day window to exit the agreement. It also states that no party shall, without the prior written consent of the other, issue any press release.
MBTV was only registered with the Secretary of State's Office late last year. It is thought to be a front group for R Communications Radio & Television. Del Rio-based R Communications owns a number of radio stations along the South Texas border region. It recently released a corporate power point presentation stating that KMBH-TV would run commercial, Spanish-language, programming from Mundo-FOX. Click here to watch the power point presentation.
While RGV Educational Broadcasting and MBTV can negotiate and even eventually agree a purchase agreement, the license cannot simply change hands. For this, RGV Educational Broadcasting will have to get approval from the FCC. Section 310(d) of the Communications Act states:
"No construction permit or station license, or any rights thereunder, shall be transferred, assigned, or disposed of in any manner, voluntarily or involuntarily, directly or indirectly, or by transfer of control of any corporation holding such permit or license, to any person except upon application to the Commission and upon finding by the Commission that the public interest, convenience, and necessity will be served thereby."
Valley residents concerned about the loss of PBS will have an opportunity to comment or file petitions to the FCC to deny an application to transfer the license from RGV Educational Broadcasting to MBTV. The FCC would address these comments in its decision-making process. The sale cannot close and the license cannot change hands until FCC approval is received. The license for KMBH-TV is up for renewal on August 1.
The Guardian has asked the Diocese of Brownsville, KMBH-TV President Robert Gutierrez, and MBTV for comment on the sale of KMBH-TV and what will happen to PBS programming but none have returned our calls or replied to emails.
The RGV Equal Voice Network, which includes ten colonia community groups, has started a petition to "save" PBS in the Valley. Equal Voice is concerned that PBS programs, particularly those aimed at children, will no longer be available "over the air" if KMBH-TV is sold to MBTV. To sign the petition, click here.