Virginia public broadcasters and state lottery officials are hoping for a big payoff in audience numbers by televising the state's lottery prize show.
In an unusual arrangement, officials of public television and the state lottery will broadcast Virginia's Monthly Million, which hits the airwaves Sept. 30 .
Unlike the regular one-minute daily drawings, the half-hour program will be shown once a month and feature eight contestants and ``at home'' players and offer prizes of between $10,000 and $1 million.
For viewers and others who may fear the Old Dominion's public TV outlets are ignoring public broadcasting's "mission,'' the program is not just a game show.
Monthly Million will try to maintain public television's tradition of educational broadcasting by providing information about such subjects as how the lottery began, how lottery money is spent, how tickets are produced and how to collect winnings. "We maintain some editorial authority over the program so it won't be another Wheel of Fortune,'' said B.W. Spiller, general manager at WCVE/WCVW-TV in Richmond, Va.
The Virginia Association of Public Television Stations will receive more than $500,000 from the one-year Lottery Commission contract, Spiller added.
Under the contract, Virginia's 10 public TV stations will provide the 30 minutes of air time and an additional one minute per day and two minutes on weekends to announce lottery winners, Spiller said.
The Public Broadcasting Service and programming officials at the regional public broadcasting networks are unaware of equivalent lottery programs on other public stations. "I haven't heard of any stations doing a similar type of programming,'' PBS spokesman Stu Kantor said.
A total of $1.37 million will be given away on the monthly program.