"The FCC prohibits public broadcasters from raising money for any other cause but themselves, unless the station gets special permission. That permission came today," explained David Piccerelli, Rhode Island PBS vice president and chief financial officer. "We're delighted to now be able to participate fully in this important event."
Piccerelli said Rhode Island PBS had a contingency plan to participate in other, more behind-the-scenes ways had FCC authorization not come in time or been denied: The station is providing the studio space and the phone lines needed to handle calls from donors. Rhode Island PBS employees are also volunteering to staff the phone bank, working with dozens of employees from local television and radio stations who are also volunteering their time for the cause.
"Hundreds of our members, neighbors, and friends were affected by the flooding," Piccerelli said. "Some of our own employees were evacuated from their homes, and others pumped out flooded basements for days. The whole state was touched by this calamity to some extent. And too many people are still trying to recover three weeks later.
"We feel strongly that we should be part of this community effort. We're glad the FCC agreed."
The Rhode Island Flood Recovery Fund was established to provide financial assistance to those affected by the storm. The Fund will collect and distribute financial aid directly to those organizations that are helping with “unmet needs” of people affected by the flood. A committee of community leaders will guide the distribution of money to the appropriate agencies. People who wish to donate before Friday's telethon may do so by visiting www.liveunitedri.org.
WSBE Rhode Island PBS is owned and operated by the Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority, a quasi-public agency of the State of Rhode Island. WSBE Rhode Island PBS is a viewer-supported member of the Public Broadcasting Service. For more than 40 years, Rhode Island PBS has used the power of commercial-free media to educate, inform, engage, and inspire viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern Connecticut. WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits over the air on digital 36.1; WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2. For TV schedules and more information about the programs and education services at Rhode Island PBS, visit www.RIpbs.org.
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(Top) Downtown Westerly, by Roger Benoit
(Bottom) River Avenue in Warwick, by Maria Lydon Barnes