KVCR receives $4M investment from California state legislature

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KVCR's studios.

California’s state legislature passed a postsecondary education bill Thursday that gave more than $4 million to dual licensee KVCR in San Bernardino.

The bill provides $4,015,000 to “support a partnership” between KVCR and the San Bernardino Community College District, which owns the station. Inland Empire Community News was first to report on the appropriation.

District leaders had projected that KVCR could lose up to $5 million by 2025, prompting a proposal to cut the station’s PBS and NPR programming and to explore a transfer of First Nations Experience, a television channel of Native American and Indigenous programming that KVCR distributes nationally to public TV stations.

SBCCD’s board of trustees tabled the proposed cuts in April after KVCR staff and community members expressed concerns about losing the programming. The board and Interim Chancellor Jose Torres later reached out to state assembly members for assistance, which led to the $4 million investment, according to SBCCD spokesperson Angel Rodriguez.

“We’re happy that the $4 million materialized, because that helps us cover about three years of PBS and NPR membership,” he said, adding that the district will be able to look into public-private partnerships to provide students with paid internships at KVCR. District leaders have said that increasing student access to KVCR’s facility is a priority for future plans.

Rodriguez credited three state assembly members for sending the $4 million funding request to the Assembly Budget Committee: Majority Leader Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino), James Ramos (D-Highland) and Freddie Rodriguez (D-Chino).

“This funding ensures that KVCR can continue to operate for the benefit of Inland Empire residents through continued coverage of our diverse region and communities,” Reyes said in a statement on Facebook after the bill was passed. “San Bernardino Community College District is one of the only community college districts in the country to have its own public service media outlet, and the benefit to our community through educational programming, news, and public service information is invaluable.”

The station may also receive additional support from the federal government. U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) told the San Bernardino Sun in April that he asked Congress to approve $900,000 for KVCR through Community Project Funding, a new initiative for fiscal year 2022. “This funding will support KVCR’s development team, which will create programs to support students in the Inland Empire,” Aguilar said in a public filing for the funding.

4 thoughts on “KVCR receives $4M investment from California state legislature

  1. Thrilled to hear of this support and its resulting in keeping PBS and NPR on the air. However, this was a financial crisis CREATED by the San Bernardino School Board. In 2017, as Current reported, the San Bernardino Community College District – which holds KVCR-TV’s broadcast license – expects to receive $157,113,171 resulting from its voluntary participation in the incentive auction. The financial proceeds reflect the FCC’s acceptance of the District’s bid to agree to transmit KVCR-TV’s over-the-air TV signal using a very-high frequency (VHF) channel instead of its current ultra-high frequency (UHF) channel. KVCR-TV will continue to broadcast its free, over-the-air, PBS programming both before and after its transition of UHF to VHF.” So, the real question is: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE $157-million SPECTRUM FEE? If the School Board just sucked it up like a vacuum cleaner, it appears THEY CAUSED THE CRISIS.

  2. As former KVCR-FM Station Manager from 2008-2011, I share Jim Russell’s curiosity about where the spectrum auction proceeds went.

    Despite the presence of dedicated professional staff members who have known for years what needed to be done to make KVCR sustainable, the organization has existed as a way station for a succession of GMs with differing visions and priorities. This discontinuity in station leadership, and a failure by SBCCD administrators to fully understand what KVCR is– and could be — has rendered the station vulnerable to one crisis after another.

    Moreover, the fact that an endowment was not set aside to help KVCR become truly relevant and sustainable is, at best, puzzling.

    At a minimum, I hope those California taxpayer dollars come with a requirement that SBCCD initiate a wide-ranging assessment via experienced, credible, CPB-savvy consultants of how IE residents can best be served by public media, then put the District and the station on an aggressive timeline to fully implement the recommendations. Otherwise, the taxpayers will end up subsidizing more dysfunction.

    I’d also feel a lot better about this direct subsidy from the State if I knew there were clear editorial firewalls set between the legislators who brought the funding to KVCR and the people who make content decisions at the station. Because California has no administrative entity to serve as a buffer between stations and “electeds,” I’d be seeing yellow flags if I was in the newsroom.

  3. The reason KVCR TV is barely a blip in the ratings is precisely because of the low-budget and niche programming that appeals to only a tiny audience. But that’s a moot point because terrestrial broadcasting is dead. They should sell those frequencies back to the FCC while they can still get top dollar for them. The delivery system moved to the Internet 15 years ago when my iPhone displaced my radio and YouTube displaced cable TV. The only thing local broadcasting could bring to the table is local news, but that’s expensive and has no resale value. I agree that students seeking content creation careers need real-world experience on their resumes and make no mistake, “classroom” experience carry no weight with media employers; so, we probably need to look at a public-private partnership to fund developing a couple of sound stages, a mixing stage, editing suites and a computer graphics department. BTW, you can’t build this on the college campus due to the onerous parking restrictions. WGBH has the formula down: Mainstream educational shows that appeal to a mass audience that can be easily be dubbed in other languages for national resale. What kinds of shows could we do here? Well, PBS desperately needs a new children’s show to replace “Mister Rogers.” You could do archival shows like American Experience. It might be possible to do science shows like NOVA if they’re filmed news style on private property; but if you have to pull film permits for nature shows, forget it. Creating a “Multimedia Gulch” to complete with LA at lower cost, but in close proximity should be high on San Bernardino’s Economic Development priorities. Consider how successful Skywalker Ranch has been, even while far away from Hollywood. BTW, There’s already plenty of A-List talent right here in the Inland Empire to do voiceovers, sound design, custom music scoring, etc. What we probably need is a famous name like Steven Spielberg to lend his name to the production center to give it the gravitas and publicity it would need to get off the ground.

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