Originally Posted by TimfromSpfdIL
In the light of the heated PBS reception debate on this thread last week, today's SJ-R had an article about WSEC/Network Knowledge's continued financial struggles nearly 5 years after the DTV transition (the article stated that the stations needed $725,000 by September to maintain full-service PBS status). It also raised the prospect of merging with another area PBS station, but if it came to that which one would be the merger partner (e.g., WILL, WTVP Peoria, WQPT Quad Cities--the latter of which has now been owned and operated by Western IL University even though Network Knowledge's WMEC-22 is licensed to Macomb):
I've always thought Illinois' PBS system was a bit unusual. Nearby, you've got Wisconsin, Kentucky, Iowa, Arkansas with state operated PBS networks, but Illinois, probably the solidest blue state in the area, doesn't. Illinois' network of PBS affiliates are affiliated with either state universities or private non-profit entities. The result is that we have a lot more PBS affiliates that we otherwise would (WSIU/WUSI, two PBS affiliates in Chicago, the Network Knowledge stations, WEIU, WILL, WQPT, WTVP, not to mention out of state PBS stations covering certain areas on the borders of Illinois, such as WNIN in Evansville, KETC in St. Louis, WFYI in Indy, WVUT in Vincennes, WYIN in Gary [which tried for several years to become a full-fledged Chicago market station], KET stations in Paducah, Owensboro, KIIN in Cedar Rapids, KQIN in Davenport [whose digital transmitter is actually in Illinois, hence it is another Illinois PBS], WHA in Madison, and the two Milwaukee Public Television stations). Illinois is pretty well served by PBS stations, I don't think that there's a single part of the state that, with a sufficient antenna, doesn't get fringe reception from least two different PBS services (in this case, services means PBS affiliates with different schedules, so KET and IPTV count as one PBS service each). [Note: this ignores the possibility of receiving PBS services by FTA satellite or by Internet stream, which are both very doable.] So competition, for viewership and for pledge dollars, is pretty fierce in Illinois. Lastly, private, non-profit PBS stations were the full-service, full power stations hit the hardest by the digital transition and all the equipment and facilities upgrades it required. A university's PBS affiliate could offset most of those expenses into the University's general budget system by applying for expanded grants, a private non-profit can't. Personally, though, I'd like to see a move away from mandatory non-profit educational TV and non-profit religious TV to full commercial educational and religious TV. There'd just be more variety available.