Central Texas' local PBS station, which has been on the air for more than four decades, is going dark. The Central Texas College Board of Trustees voted four to two Tuesday to shut it down. The board cited budget concerns as one of their main reasons.
Reverend Jimmy Towers, a member of the CTC Board of Trustees, said it was an extremely difficult decision because of its heritage, function and its legacy for Killeen, but it would have cost the college, the federal government--and basically taxpayers--millions to keep it running. He said the TV station's time is up. Towers is the pastor at the LifeWay Fellowship in Killeen.
The board member said the critical part of the decision was based on finances. KNCT General Manager Max Rudolph said the FCC made some changes to the airways and the station was faced with a significant amount of expense to "repack" the station. The "repack" requires KNCT to move the station’s channel number from 46 to 17, which would cost about $4.4 million dollars.
The station also would have needed to replace the tower, which is the original from 1970. The tower is original equipment from 1970, not built for 2018 engineering standards. So, if the station continued, the Board would have to come up with money for a new transmission line and antenna as well. That replacement cost is about $1 million. The CTC Board member said they have been operating the station in the red for the past several years. The station was operating at a loss at about $500,000 per year.
“There was a time where we could afford to have that kind of financial bleeding because resources were great," Towers said.
In the past, CTC was receiving more money from worldwide missions, including instructing soldiers around the world.
While this is not the oldest PBS station, it started back in 1970. But the station closing this year is a sign of the times.
“At one time, the television station was a significant part of that but today, no offense to the television industry, people are getting their information off their cellphones and off the internet," said Towers.
"Certainly not a relief, it is bittersweet. I think the college has made a very wise decision in moving this regard because we're really going to move a lot of our video to the college website," said Rudolph.
There is no date for when the station will go dark. The decision will not affect the KNCT radio station 91.3 FM as well as the academic program, Associates Degree in Radio/Television and Broadcasting. The equipment will remain at the station to help the students complete the degree.
KNCT General Manager Max Rudolph said viewers looking for a PBS station after it goes dark may have access to KAMU out of Bryan and College Station. KNCT will have to make changes by 2020.