FCC Commissioner: WTJX Should Be on Satellite TV

Apparently prompted by a meeting with Delegate Stacey Plaskett, a Federal Communications Commissioner is chastising satellite television providers for not carrying V.I. Public Television station WTJX.

In a blog post Monday at the FCC website, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn asked readers to imagine living in "New York City and discovering that your pay-TV provider does not carry the local PBS affiliate and instead provides you with a Philadelphia based station."

"While this unusual arrangement would preserve access to some of your favorite nationally-televised PBS shows like ‘Antiques Roadshow’ and ‘NewsHour,’ unless you have an over-the-air antenna, it would mean missing out on the high-quality local programming that broadcasters are required to provide their communities of license," she wrote.

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Clyburn, who is one of five FCC commissioners, said Plaskett brought it to her attention recently that WTJX is not available to satellite customers who use services like DISH. Instead, DISH carries WMTJ, a Puerto Rico station.

"Geographically, Puerto Rico is just over 100 miles from the Virgin Islands, but make no mistake they are very different communities, not to mention that they have a different dominate language," Clyburn wrote.

A few weeks ago, Plaskett arranged a meeting with Clyburn and local PBS officials. Clyburn said the local PSB lineup has "high-quality local programming, including ‘Face to Face’ with Addie Ottley, ‘Ritmo Del Doce’ along with ‘Meet the Candidates’ programs during the election season."

She said the reason WTJX is not being carried by some pay-TV providers is because the USVI is not in a Nielsen Designated Market Area.

"(W)hile I cannot compel carriage of WTJX as an FCC Commissioner, I do believe it is the right thing to do. We owe it to the people of the Virgin Islands to ensure they have access to local public broadcasting, just as those living in the continental United States, Hawaii, and parts of Alaska have come to expect and I call on the powers that be to make it happen, now," she wrote.

President Barack Obama appointed Clyburn, the daughter of Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC,) to the FCC in 2009. 

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