McALLEN, RGV – The president and CEO of KMBH says Corpus Christi-based KEDT is more likely to save PBS in the Rio Grande Valley than R Communications, the commercial media group that currently manages KMBH TV for the Diocese of Brownsville.
Robert Gutierrez made his views known at a quarterly board meeting of RGV Educational Broadcasting, a non-profit that runs KMBH TV and Radio for the Diocese. The Diocese has entered into a local management agreement with R Communications that allows the Del Rio-based media group to run KMBH TV, the Valley’s PBS station.
The Diocese plans to sell KMBH TV to R Communications for $10 million if it succeeds in getting its license renewed with the Federal Communications Commission.
“KEDT is very serious about coming down to the Valley and starting a new PBS affiliate,” Gutierrez told the RGV Educational Broadcasting board of directors, at a meeting at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in McAllen.
“They have gotten, I would say, non-financial support letters from the City of McAllen and the City of Harlingen. And they are preparing to do a business plan for CPB for keeping PBS in the Valley. They are looking for support down here.”
CPB stands for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.
Gutierrez said he has visited with KEDT staff on a number of occasions. “They are very organized. The general manager has been there for 30 years. He has done a very good job in raising support. He is very confident he can help down here and get the support he needs to keep PBS in the Valley.”
The general manager of KEDT is Don Dunlap. KEDT, a non-profit, is the PBS station in Corpus Christi.
Asked by the board if the San Antonio PBS station, KLRN, is interested in providing PBS in the Valley, Gutierrez responded: “They are off the radar.” The more likely provider, Gutierrez said, is KEDT.
“Don Dunlap has mentioned to me that CPB is very interested in keeping PBS down here and they (CPB) have some funding monies possibly but they want a plan.”
Asked by Sue Groves, a reporter for Beyond Arts magazine, if KEDT would provide PBS “over the air” or simply extend its signal to the Valley, Gutierrez said: “I do not know the details. There are a few scenarios to look at.” However, he reiterated that KEDT is keen to be in the Valley. “Corpus is pursuing. We are trying to assist in whatever way we can.”
Much of the RGV Educational Broadcasting board of directors meeting took place in executive session, with press and public excluded. There was some discussion on transmitter signal problems for KMBH TV.
After the meeting ended Gutierrez held a brief question and answer session with reporters and members of the public.
Gutierrez was asked by Harlingen community activist Yolanda Shoffeitt if R Communications would keep PBS on the air in the Valley if and when it acquires the KMBH license from the Diocese. Gutierrez responded: “We do not know. R Communications say they want to keep it on (the air) as long as they can. But, they are a commercial station in business to be profitable so we do not know what the future is. I feel confident it (PBS) will be on (the air) for a while.”
Asked by the Guardian why he felt KEDT was a better bet for PBS in the Valley than R Communications, Gutierrez said: “R Communications is a commercial station. I do not think they can keep PBS for an extended period of time.” Asked if the general public should get behind KEDT’s efforts to set up a PBS affiliate in the Valley, Gutierrez said: “Yes. They have very experienced people over there, very successful. I think they could be a great addition.”