MCALLEN, RGV – A problem with malfunctioning transmitters that stopped many Rio Grande Valley residents from enjoying PBS TV has gone on far too long, says U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.
The McAllen congressman has written to the Public Broadcasting Service to see what they can do about it, even though the local PBS station, KMBH, was sold by the Diocese of Brownsville to a commercial broadcaster, R Communications Media Group.
Gonzalez said his constituents in South Texas have been experiencing “prolonged broadcasting lapses” from two local PBS stations. He said R Communications is working to fix the issue and has confirmed the transmitter is malfunctioning.
“PBS brings high quality educational programming and entertainment into our homes every day,” Gonzalez said. “I encourage PBS to work with our office to resolve this problem and prevent malfunctions like these in the future. I know many residents in the 15th District of Texas look forward to enjoying PBS programming again soon.”
Gonzalez notes that PBS broadcasts across South Texas through KMBH and COZI TV.
Here is Gonzalez’s letter to PBS:
May 4, 2018
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
2100 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for your dedication to consistently providing all Americans with access to informative and educational content. Unfortunately, I am writing to you on behalf of constituents who have reported difficulty receiving the broadcast from the local PBS stations in the Rio Grande Valley, KMBH and COZI TV.
This issue has been specific to the many in South Texas who still rely on antennas to view this station via airwaves. The malfunction was first reported in early February of this year. Officials at R Communications Media Group in McAllen, Texas working on the issue have confirmed that the source of the malfunction is the transmitter.
Although we have engineers in our area working to resolve this issue, I wanted to reach out directly as it has gone on too long. I would appreciate any information regarding how to resolve this issue.
Again, thank you for all that you do. I look forward to working with you to restore service for the many individuals who hold PBS and its commitment to quality programming in high regard. Should you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (202) 225-2531 or (956) 682-5545.
Member of Congress
Station Goes Silent
According to Robert L Reed, manager of MB Revolution, LLC, KMBH “went silent” on Jan. 25, 2018. KMBH filed a Special Temporary Authority request with the FCC Feb. 21 to remain off the air for longer than 30 days. Reed signed the request. It included this attachment:
Request for Authority to Remain
MBTV Texas Valley LLC KMBH(DT), Harlingen, Texas Facility ID No. 56079 Exhibit 1
On January 31, 2018, MBTV Texas Valley LLC (“MBTV”), the licensee of KMBH(DT), Harlingen, Texas, notified the Commission that KMBH was forced to suspend operation on January 25, 2018. As stated in MBTV’s notification, the local electric utility company is currently constructing a new substation less than one mile from the KMBH transmitter site. For safety reasons in connection with that construction, the utility had periodically reduced power for temporary intervals to the electrical line serving the KMBH transmitter site. On January 25, 2018, the utility’s restoration of full voltage to the line after one such temporary reduction caused a surge that damaged the KMBH transmitter and required the station to discontinue operation. Because MBTV now anticipates that the station will remain silent for more than thirty days, it hereby requests special temporary authority for KMBH to remain silent.
Citizens Advisory Committee
Edgar Lopez was chairman of the Upper Valley Citizens Advisory Board when the Diocese of Brownsville owned KMBH-TV. The CAB was disbanded when the television station was sold to R Communications.
“I am very concerned about the transmitters malfunctioning. There is another religious station whose signal is so strong it just overwhelms our PBS signal,” Lopez said.
Lopez said he understands there is federal money that could be used to boost the PBS signal in the Valley. He said he would like to see such funding used because many people in the Valley cannot afford cable TV.
“There are a lot of people who cannot afford cable TV. If those people have access to PBS with their antenna, it has to be of poor quality. We should be doing something about it. It has been going on for such a long time. I understand there are still federal funds available. These funds should be used to help the Valley. Why do we not take care of this?” Lopez asked.
Lopez said he was disappointed the Citizens Advisory Board was discontinued when KMBH was sold to R Communications.
“R Communications probably give PBS lip service. It is a crying shame because PBS is an outstanding station. That the people of the Valley cannot have better access, that is a crying a shame,” Lopez said.
“I do wish the Citizens Committee had continued. They (R Communications and PBS) do need input from the public. Here in the Valley we are at the mercy of private industry. I do not see how having private industry controlling PBS down here benefits the public. There should be input from our local citizens.”
Ready to Sell
According to a story by reporter Dru Sefton in the trade publication Current, R Communications could be ready to sell KMBH.
“We are working diligently on getting back on air, and we are reviewing other options,” said Carlos A. Rodriguez, CEO of licensee R Communications, told Current earlier this year. “We have received offers to buy KMBH and we are reviewing those as well as other alternatives we have on the table.”
Click here to read the Current story.
Editor’s Note: Romero Herrera, general manager of R Communications, is due to call the Rio Grande Guardian with his explanation about the malfunctioning transmitters. We will post his comments as soon as we receive them.