WMFE/Orlando Sells TV Side To Religious Broadcaster, Keeps FM
April 4, 2011 at 3:58 AM (PT)
COMMUNITY COMMUNICATIONS, INC. is selling its PBS-affiliated television station WMFE-TV/ORLANDO and will retain its NPR-affiliated FM station, WMFE-F/ORLANDO. The move caught CENTRAL FLORIDA viewers by surprise, especially in light of the news that the TV station, the primary PBS affiliate for the market, would give up the affiliation, leaving PBS to secondary affiliates WDSC-TV/DAYTONA BEACH and WBCC-TV/COCOA. The ORLANDO SENTINEL reported late SUNDAY that the TV station's likely purchaser is religious operator DAYSTAR, which would be paying $5 million for the station.
"This was a tough decision that no one took lightly," said WMFE President JOSE A. FAJARDO. "But in the end, our trustees and executive team decided to focus our resources on sustaining and building the most viable part of our business, our FM radio station." FAJARDO said that corporate donations for the TV station have fallen 68% since 2007, with individual donations off 40%, while the radio side is ahead of schedule in its fundraising.
"We carefully evaluated a number of different options, including merging with another station or becoming independent, but none would have sustained the TV platform in the long run," added FAJARDO. "There are simply too many things negatively impacting public TV today, from shrinking financial support to steep PBS programming fees that we've been told are actually going up over the next two years. Given all of that, at least in our market, we think the model is no longer viable."
"The board was unified in its decision to redirect our efforts to a radio-only platform," said SHOWALTER FLYING SERVICE Chairman BOB SHOWALTER, the Chair of WMFE's Board of Trustees. "WMFE-FM listenership and financial support are both trending up, despite lingering economic challenges, and we have plans to add to and expand the kind of quality programming CENTRAL FLORIDA listeners have come to expect. Our hope is that the community will understand our decision and continue to support public media through 90.7 FM."