LA FERIA, RGV – One of the poorest parts of the country with one of the highest minority populations will have to do without “over the air” PBS for even longer.
Residents in the Rio Grande Valley who cannot afford cable or dish have been without PBS since Jan. 25. PBS airs on KMBH-TV, which is owned by MBTV Texas Valley, otherwise known as R Communications. MBTV said KMBH has been “silent” since that date because a local electric utility company caused a surge that damaged the KMBH transmitter in La Feria and required the station to discontinue operation.
Some supporters of PBS in the Valley were hoping the lengthy delay in repairing the transmitter would cause the Federal Communications Commission to yank the KMBH license from MBTV Texas Valley.
But, the FCC has given MBTV Texas Valley more time to fix the issue. MBTV asked for more time in February. The FCC responded in March with this letter:
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
March 7, 2018
1 800E I -MHH
MBTV TEXAS VALLEY LLC
1 7300 Henderson Pass
San Antonio, TX 78232
Fac Id: 56079
This refers to the above application dated February 21 . 2018 requesting special temporary authority to remain silent. You indicate that that KMBH was forced to suspend operation on January 25, 2018. You mentioned that the local electric utility company caused a surge that damaged the KMBH transmitter and required the station to discontinue operation.
In light of the above, special temporary authority IS GRANTED pursuant to Sections 73.1740 of the Commissions Rules. This authorization expires on September 7, 2018. During this period of discontinued operation, you are directed to pay strict attention to Section 73.1740 (a) (4). That is, you must continue to adhere to the requirements in your station license pertaining to the lighting of antenna structures.
We wish to point out that an extension of this request must include detailed reasons and a description of efforts being taken to return the station to full power operation.
Kevin R. Harding
Cc: Gregory L. Masters
Congressman Vicente Gonzalez says KMBH-TV has stayed silent long enough. In a letter to PBS in May, Gonzalez noted that officials at R Communications Media Group in McAllen have confirmed that the source of the malfunction is the transmitter.
Click here to read Rep. Gonzalez’s letter to PBS and MBTV Texas Valley’s letter to the FCC.
R Communications/MBTV purchased KMBH-TV from the Diocese of Brownsville in 2015.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows the KMBH-TV transmitter in La Feria, Texas.