Texas lawmaker asks PBS to help restore service in Rio Grande Valley

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The shutdown of a PBS station in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley has drawn the attention of a member of Congress.

In a letter to PBS Tuesday, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez asked the network to help restore public TV service in his area of South Texas. The region’s sole public TV service, KMBH, went off the air in January after a power surge damaged its transmitter, according to a Jan. 31 letter to the FCC from licensee MBTV Texas Valley LLC. Several of Current’s readers have complained about losing the channel in comments on our coverage.

“This issue has been specific to the many in South Texas who still rely on antennas to view this station via airwaves,” Gonzalez wrote.

“Although we have engineers in our area working to resolve this issue, I wanted to reach out directly as it has gone on too long,” he added. “I would appreciate any information regarding how to resolve this issue.”

In March, a PBS VP told Current that the network was looking into leasing a channel from another commercial broadcaster.

MBTV, a subsidiary of commercial broadcaster R Communications, previously aired public TV programming on a digital multichannel of KMBH’s. R Communications CEO Carlos Rodriguez told Current in March that his company was working to get KMBH back on the air, but that it was also considering purchase offers for the station. Rodriguez told Current Wednesday that R Communications has made no headway on repairing the tower nor on a possible sale.

Update: A PBS spokesperson told Current Thursday afternoon, “We are working with the Congressman’s office to respond to his letter, as we continue to look into all options to restore reliable, over-the-air service to the market.”

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