|HARLINGEN, April 22 - Rio Grande Valley residents now have an opportunity to officially comment to the Federal Communications Commission on the Diocese of Brownsville’s application to renew its license to operate KMBH-TV.
The window of opportunity to support or oppose the license renewal is open until July 1. The KMBH license expires on August 1 and so the FCC must make a decision on the Diocese’s renewal application before then. If the renewal of the license is not granted, the Diocese’s other current application to the FFC, to transfer the license to MBTV Texas Valley, LLC, will be moot.
The Diocese’s renewal application has been made under the legal name of the licensee, RGV Educational Broadcasting, Inc. It was submitted on March 27 by its President and CEO, Robert Gutierrez.
In the application, Gutierrez says KMBH has provided “extraordinary amounts of public affairs and other informational programming addressing the needs and interests of the community.” However, Gutierrez also acknowledged in the application that KMBH has not always filed its public reports and quarterly issues/programs lists in a timely manner.
There are some groups who have been critical of the management of KMBH under the Diocese, such as RGV Equal Voice Network and Save PBS-RGV. These groups or some of their leaders, along with other Valley residents, are expected to file a Petition to Deny the KMBH license renewal.
These are some of the criticisms leveled against KMBH:
• Failure to provide many local programs
• Failure to provide local programming of interest to Hispanic viewers
• Failure to attract many members
• Failure to attract local funding from stakeholders in the Rio Grande Valley
• Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s decision to pull the plug on funding in 2014
• Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s decision to place KMBH ‘on probation’ in recent years
• Failure to provide timely information in the Public File
• Failure to inform KMBH’s Citizens Advisory Boards on what is going on
• Editorial interference in some programs deemed hostile to the Catholic Church
While critics might find many reasons to oppose the license renewal, filing a petition to deny is not an easy process. Janice Wise, a spokesperson for the FCC, provided the Guardian with information on how to comment on a license renewal application. Wise said Petitions to Deny must be submitted in writing and not sent via email.
“First, to file a Petition to Deny, a person must be a ‘party in interest’ and have ‘standing’,” Wise stated in an email, quoting information on the FCC website. “That means, generally, that the person must have more than a passing interest in the station. He or she must be a regular listener or have some other contact with the station that gives the petitioner a real stake in the outcome of the renewal process.”
Also, Wise said, a Petition to Deny must be supported by “an affidavit of a person or persons with personal knowledge of the allegations of fact contained in the petition.” Additionally, the petition must contain a certification that a copy of the petition was mailed to the station. Failure to include the certification that a copy was mailed to the station and the affidavit of personal knowledge will result in dismissal of the Petition to Deny.”
Alternatively, an interested party could file an Informal Objection or a Positive Comment. “An informal objection is less formal than a Petition to Deny, but some requirements still apply,” Wise said. “An informal objection need not contain the affidavit required for a Petition to Deny. It should, however, contain sufficient information to establish any violation alleged.”
“When filing Petitions to Deny, informal objections, or positive comments, please include an original and two copies of any filing,” Wise added.
Those interested in commenting for or against the Diocese’s license renewal application can learn more about the process by going to:
The Diocese recently entered into a Local Management Agreement with R Communications, which is part of MBTV Texas Valley, LLC. The Diocese eventually wants to sell KMBH-TV to MBTV. However, this has not happened yet, says Kelly Broadway, a spokesperson for CPB.
“The sale of KMBH has not yet been approved. The deal was only submitted to the FCC on March 20. It will take approximately four months to complete the license transfer – three months for public comment, plus an additional 30 days for the FCC to finalize everything,” Broadway told the Guardian.
KMBH-TV is the Valley TV station for PBS programming. Jan McNamara, a spokesperson for PBS, said PBS is committed to keeping PBS in the Valley whatever happens to KMBH.
“Ensuring that the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley continue to have uninterrupted access to PBS' full schedule and services is a critically important priority,” McNamara told the Guardian. “Until the sale of KMBH is final, which could take up to 12 months, R Communications has agreed to continue airing PBS programming to guarantee there is no gap is service to viewers in the Valley. At this time, R Communications and KEDT have publicly expressed interest in providing PBS programming to the community of Harlingen.
“We are committed to reviewing proposals from any interested party and will weigh each plan carefully in accordance with criteria that will be established in collaboration with the PBS Board.”
KEDT-TV is the PBS TV station for Corpus Christi.
Any Rio Grande Valley resident wishing to contact the FCC to learn more about commenting on the KMBH-TV license renewal application can telephone (866) 918-5777 (Voice), or fax (202) 418-2827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org