WQED leases its second station to home shopping network
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
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