After WMFE announced in April that it was selling its public TV station, Orlando’s primary PBS outlet, the University of Central Florida and Brevard Community College rode to the rescue.
UCF and BCC quickly teamed up to create a new PBS station, WUCF TV, to go on the air July 1, just as WMFE TV went off. PBS fans in Orlando didn’t have to miss a minute of access to their favorite network and signature shows like Sesame Street, the PBS NewsHour, Nova and Masterpiece.
Virtually all public radio and TV stations need to raise money from their listeners and viewers to stay on the air. WUCF TV, as a start-up operation, faces more fundraising pressure than usual. And it has ambitious goals that will add to its quality but also its costs, including more local programming.
Gov. Rick Scott turned up the pressure another notch this year when he vetoed $4.8 million in state funding for public TV and radio. The total included about $600,000 that would have gone to WUCF TV.
Although the governor’s veto surely stung the Florida stations, we think they’re better off if they can raise more from their listeners and viewers, and depend less on governments — a reliance that often has unfairly turned public broadcasters into political targets.
WUCF TV is kicking off its first full-fledged on-air fundraising drive today. Viewers who appreciate the effort to keep public TV in Central Florida should pitch in.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, Our take on: Supporting Public Television. Published: Friday, Dec. 2, 2011.