Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: WSBE One Step Closer to Independence

The Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority voted at its meeting yesterday afternoon to begin the process of transitioning WSBE Rhode Island PBS – the state's only public television station - from a state licensee to a community licensee. The announcement was made by WSBE President and Chief Executive Officer David W. Piccerelli. The Authority oversees WSBE and is the broadcast license holder. The vote comes on the heels of passage of the state budget that extends the station's funding until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2013.

David W. Piccerelli
WSBE President and CEO
"The Authority's action clears the way to start the process with the Federal Communications Commission to transfer the license to the Rhode Island PBS Foundation," Piccerelli said. "We are pleased that the state budget restores much of the funding WSBE needs to give us the time necessary to execute a comprehensive and viable plan for alternative funding and operating strategies, without crippling the station during the process." Piccerelli estimates the FCC application and review process to transfer the license can take up to 90 days.

Authority Chairperson Michael B. Isaacs praised the Board's action. "This is an important first step toward WSBE's independence," he said. "The Board's leadership and support should bolster the public's confidence that WSBE will continue to deliver local programming, education services, and the hallmark PBS series to the families of Rhode Island and our greater Southeastern New England audience."

Piccerelli concurred. "Becoming a community licensee opens new opportunities to build partnerships that will expand programming and education services – and secure the future of local public television."

Of the 173 public television licensees nationwide, more than half – 89 of them – are community licensees, operated by non-profit corporations. Rhode Island is currently one of only 20 state licensees.

"The community license model is the most popular one because it works," Piccerelli observed. "It provides both growth and sustainability. Pursuing this model puts WSBE – and Rhode Island – on a proven path to success."

Piccerelli added that during the transition period, he and the Authority will continue to work closely with the governor's office and the General Assembly – both of whom also have an interest in the successful continuation of public broadcasting in Rhode Island.

About WSBE

WSBE is operated by the Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority, a public corporation established by Rhode Island General Laws 16-61-2. WSBE is a viewer-supported member of the PBS network of public broadcasting stations, and transmits on two channels:

  • WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; Rhode Island cable channels are Cox 08 / 708HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; in Massachusetts, Comcast 819HD, Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite, DirecTV 36, and Dish Network 7776.
  • WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; on Cox 808; Verizon 478; Full Channel 109; and Comcast 294 or 312. 
Committed to lifelong learning for 45 years, WSBE uses the power of commercial-free media to educate, engage, enrich, inspire, and entertain viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern Connecticut. For more information about the programs and education services at WSBE, visit www.ripbs.org.