WTVI in Charlotte, N.C., will return to carrying first-run PBS programming for the first time since 2004, reports the Charlotte Observer. The move will cost the station about $200,000 annually, according to the newspaper.
The struggling pubcaster was taken over by Central Piedmont Community College in March. The station had dropped the primary PBS schedule eight years ago because it duplicated programming on overlap stations UNC-TV in Chapel Hill and SCETV in Columbia.
At first the station's plan to focus on local shows worked, but over time viewership and donations declined. WTVI memberships fell from 20,000 a decade ago to about 7,000 last year, said Elsie Garner, the station’s executive director.
In other news, Off the Record, a local media roundtable, will begin airing at 9:30 p.m. Fridays hosted by David Rhew, WTVI g.m., a former reporter. And the station will now be branded as PBS Charlotte.