Updated March 27 at 1:27pm

PBS transitioning to community license


PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority voted to begin the process of transitioning WSBE-TV, PBS 36 - Rhode Island PBS - from a state licensee to a community licensee.

The authority is the broadcast license holder of WBSE - the Ocean State’s only public television station.

According to a release announcing the decision, the Authority’s vote comes on the heels of the approved state budget, which agreed to extend station funding until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2013.

“The Authority’s action clears the way to start the process with the Federal Communications Commission to transfer the license to the Rhode Island PBS Foundation,” David W. Piccerelli – WSBE president and CEO – said in prepared remarks.

“We are pleased that the state budget restores much of the funding WSBE needs to give us the time necessary to execute a comprehensive and viable plan for alternative funding and operating strategies, without crippling the station during the process,” said Piccerelli, adding that the FCC application and review process required to transfer the license can take up to 90 days.

According to Piccerelli, becoming a community licensee will open up new opportunities for Rhode Island PBS, allowing the station to expand programming and education services.

Of the 173 public television licensees nationwide, 89 are community licensees operated by nonprofit corporations. Rhode Island PBS is one of only 20 state licensees.

“The community license model is the most popular one because it works. It provides both growth and sustainability,” said Piccerelli, adding that pursing the community license model will put WSBE – and Rhode Island – “on a proven path to success.”


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