Statement before             Glenn A. Walsh

     the Board of Directors          P.O. Box 1041

       of WQED Multimedia:           Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

     New Programming of            Telephone: 412-561-7876

          WQEX-TV 16               Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >

                                                                Internet Web Site: < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/wqex >

2007 September 27

 

Good evening. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon, a regular viewer and a member of WQED Multimedia. Today, I am representing no formal organization.

 

In the Spring, I learned the news that WQEX-TV, channel 16, would become affiliated with, yet, another home-shopping channel. While I am glad channel 16 was not sold outright, I was not encouraged by the comment in a March 17 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, attributed to WQED Multimedia President George Miles, indicating that the only reason it was not sold is because the price offered was too low.

 

First of all, channel 16, as an asset of a publicly-chartered and funded charity, is a valuable public resource that should not be used, indefinitely, as a cash-cow simply to fund other public assets. And, the whole idea of selling-off a valuable public asset, such as channel 16, just to provide additional money for other public assets, would be a very short-sighted policy that reduces the value of all public assets to simply their monetary value at a particular moment in time.

 

This type of short-term thinking will lead to the same type of problems that WQED experienced more than a decade ago. And, if major financial problems beset this organization in the future, then what will you sell-off?

 

Now, I understand that funding has dried-up for a second educational television channel. However, with conversion of channel 16 to a commercial license, you now have an opportunity to find new creative ways to use channel 16 to perform your mission. Channel 16 could become an educational/commercial hybrid channel. The educational mission could continue on channel 16 while advertising is sold to support that mission. As channel 16 pioneered the concept of a second educational television channel in one city, nearly 50 years ago, channel 16 could now pioneer a new concept of how to implement a second educational television channel in the financial realities of the 21st century. This possibility should be explored over the next two years, during the ShopNBC contract.

 

In the newspaper article, Mr. Miles also asks, "Does this market need eight channels for distribution in the 22nd television market?” First of all, we should not be making rash judgments that preclude options for a future WQED Board of Directors. Secondly, I am not at all convinced that analog television will go away in two years time.

 

Today, the majority of Americans have no idea that this digital conversion is going to take place in 2009—and, how much it will cost them. Digital television is of a higher quality. But, most Americans are quite satisfied with the quality of their color television today. I think most people today do not think they need a higher quality television—particularly if they have to pay for it.

 

The plan to subsidize this conversion, even at more than a billion dollars, seems to be inadequate. And, do we need something else to add to our large national debt?

 

When Americans begin to realize the costs of the digital conversion, there will be an uproar—and, this will be heard in the halls of Congress. And, Congress will respond by delaying the conversion date.

 

I could be wrong, but I do think that analog television will be with us for quite a while longer. Thus, Pittsburgh still needs channel 16 for an additional educational television option—even if, to pay for that second option, we need to accept an educational/commercial hybrid arrangement.

 

Thank you.

 

gaw