Owner of sole public TV signal in Rio Grande Valley hints at possible sale

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KMBH in Harlingen, Texas, a commercial broadcaster and former public station that carries PBS content on a multichannel, has been off the air since January and might be sold.

The channel provides the only access to public television programming in the Rio Grande Valley, along the Mexican border. KMBH reaches 351,810 TV households, according to Nielsen.

KMBH filed a Special Temporary Authority request with the FCC Feb. 21 to remain off the air for longer than 30 days. The station’s transmitter was damaged by a local electric company constructing a substation nearby, according to FCC documents.

“We are working diligently on getting back on air, and we are reviewing other options,” said Carlos A. Rodriguez, CEO of licensee R Communications. “We have received offers to buy KMBH and we are reviewing those as well as other alternatives we have on the table.”

Rodriguez said the licensee “will notify the public whenever we reach a decision.”

In 2014, after public TV KMBH was sold, PBS member station KEDT in Corpus Christi offered to extend its signal into the Harlingen market.

“KEDT and R Communications did not reach an agreement,” Rodriguez said. He declined to discuss details, citing a nondisclosure clause.

Rodriguez said KMBH offers PBS content “without any remuneration from CPB or the public. We have been doing it from our own funds.” It’s the first commercial station to air PBS programming.

PBS is exploring leasing space from another commercial broadcaster to reach the market, according to  Thomas Crockett, VP member affairs. “We’re looking into all options,” he said.

This story was updated to include the comment from PBS’ Thomas Crockett.

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