After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico university shuts down PBS station

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Puerto Rico’s PBS affiliate is off the air indefinitely after its university licensee decided to end activities not directly related to academics.

Sistema TV, a CPB-funded station in San Juan, is licensed to private university Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez. The school announced the station’s future Monday as students returned to campus for the first time since Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

President José F. Méndez Méndez said in a statement that deciding to shut down the station was difficult but that the school is focusing on ensuring students complete their academic terms. The station’s infrastructure had been damaged by Hurricane Maria, Méndez said.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria knocked broadcasters in Puerto Rico off the air and devastated the island’s communications networks. Most of the island has been without electricity since Maria hit Sept. 20.

After Hurricane Irma, CPB provided $30,000 to help Sistema TV recover from damages.

[UPDATE: When asked what would happen to the funds, CPB spokesperson Leticia King said “it is premature to comment. Our actions related to grants will be based on what we hear from the station.”]

CPB also paid for engineers to travel to Puerto Rico last week to help San Juan joint licensee WIPR restore its FM signal. Sistema TV has been the sole PBS affiliate in Puerto Rico since 2011, when WIPR dropped its PBS membership.

In a Facebook post, Sistema TV anchor Mardelis Jusino Ortiz said she was without words upon hearing of the TV station’s closing.

CPB is in contact with Sistema TV, according to King, who confirmed that the station is off the air. Current could not reach station and university officials for comment.

  • ScottGilbert

    Did you notice, not once were the call signs listed? There are (or were) two PBS stations in Puerto Rico.

  • I think the PBS affiliation will go to a new fully-funded and commercial-free station in Puerto Rico which will replace WMTJ this year.