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WQED leases its second station to home shopping network

Originally published in Current, April 12, 2004

Pittsburgh’s WQED Multimedia has leased its second analog TV station — WQEX, Channel 16 — to the Home Shopping Network to earn money, the pubcaster announced last week.

Starting May 1, HSN will put its new America’s Store shopping network on WQEX. HSN will also have its flagship HSN channel on a low-power Pittsburgh station.

WQED will provide three hours of children’s programs and an hour of public affairs to air on Channel 16 each week so it will meet FCC requirements. WQED President George Miles said HSN will get one of WQEX’s DTV multicast channels. [WQED will retain the use of any other multicast streams on the new DTV channel.]

In return, Miles said WQED may earn as much as $1 million a year from HSN’s lease payment—he declined to give an exact amount—plus its sale of four minutes of local-affiliate commercials per hour.

Miles began trying to sell the second channel in 1996 to get WQED out of debt. In the meantime, WQED has improved its net worth from just $11,000 in 1994 to almost $6 million today, though it still has $7.5 million in debts. WQED came close to a sale several times, along the way winning FCC permission to sell the channel even though it was reserved for noncommercial use.

Jerry Starr, a media activist who fought the sale of Channel 16 and started the national group Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, says leasing it to HSN “represents a shameful chapter in the decline of public broadcasters from public servants to corporate pitchmen,” he said.

Web page posted April 26, 2004
Current
The newspaper about public TV and radio
in the United States
Current Publishing Committee, Takoma Park, Md.
Copyright 2004

EARLIER ARTICLES

WQED collapses as a national program producer, 1993. New management seeks to pay debts by selling second station.

Channel swap with religious broadcaster falls through, thwarting WQED, 2000.

FCC dereserves Channel 16 so it can be sold to a commercial broadcaster, 2002.

OUTSIDE LINKS

WQED's press release.

WQED celebrates its 50th anniversary.

America's Store website operated by Home Shopping Network.

Jerry Starr of Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting comments on FCC decision in 2002 allowing sale or lease of the channel.

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