Maine Public Broadcasting Network

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Maine Public Broadcasting Network
Maine Public Broadcasting Network Logo.svg
statewide Maine
BrandingMPBN
SloganMore to Explore
ChannelsDigital:
WCBB 10 (VHF)
WMEB-TV 9 (VHF)
WMEM-TV 10 (VHF)
WMED-TV 10 (VHF)
WMEA-TV 45 (UHF)
Subchannelsx.1 PBS
x.2 PBS-HD
AffiliationsPBS, NPR, BBC, CBC
OwnerMaine Public Broadcasting Corporation
First air dateNovember 13, 1961 (WCBB)
September 23, 1963 (original MPBN)
1992 (current incarnation)
Former affiliationsNET (1961-1970)
Transmitter coordinatessee table below
Websitewww.mpbn.net
 
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Maine Public Broadcasting Network
Maine Public Broadcasting Network Logo.svg
statewide Maine
BrandingMPBN
SloganMore to Explore
ChannelsDigital:
WCBB 10 (VHF)
WMEB-TV 9 (VHF)
WMEM-TV 10 (VHF)
WMED-TV 10 (VHF)
WMEA-TV 45 (UHF)
Subchannelsx.1 PBS
x.2 PBS-HD
AffiliationsPBS, NPR, BBC, CBC
OwnerMaine Public Broadcasting Corporation
First air dateNovember 13, 1961 (WCBB)
September 23, 1963 (original MPBN)
1992 (current incarnation)
Former affiliationsNET (1961-1970)
Transmitter coordinatessee table below
Websitewww.mpbn.net

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network (abbreviated MPBN) is a state network of public television and radio stations located in the state of Maine in the United States. It is operated by the Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation, which holds the licenses for all the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) stations licensed in the state. MPBN has studios and offices in Portland, Lewiston and Bangor.

MPBN's television network shows a block of standard PBS programming, as well as many documentaries including nature programs and other science programs. MPBN's radio network airs news and talk programming from NPR, locally-produced news programming, jazz and classical music.

MPBN's television and radio signals reach virtually all of the populated portions of Maine, and adjoining parts of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Brunswick. MPBN Television is also carried on cable in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Contents

History

What is now MPBN dates from the 1992 merger of WCBB-TV, the PBS member station for most of southern Maine, with the original MPBN radio and television stations operated by the University of Maine.[1]

On November 13, 1961, WCBB-TV signed on from Lewiston as the first Educational television station in Maine. It was a combined venture of Colby College, Bates College, and Bowdoin College.[2] Two years later, WMEB-TV signed on from UMaine's campus in Orono, near Bangor.[3] Over the next decade, UMaine signed on three other stations across the state, as well as several translators. These stations formed the original MPBN network. One of these stations was WMEA-TV in Biddeford, near Portland; however, it was (and still is) practically unviewable over the air in Portland itself and points north. WMEA was the flagship station for the now-defunct Maine Public Television Plus, a secondary PBS service launched in the mid-1990s. UMaine brought public radio to the state in 1970, when WMEH signed on from Bangor. Five other stations signed on over the next decade.

As part of the merger, all of the stations' licenses were transferred to a new community-owned entity, the Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation. MPBN's Bangor stations, WMEB-TV and WMEH-FM, became the flagship stations. The television stations adopted the on-air name "Maine Public Television," but dropped this in favor of "Maine PBS" in 1998. The radio stations became known as "Maine Public Radio." In 2006, they reverted to the "MPBN" moniker.

Controversy

In the course of 24 months in 2000 and 2001, longtime classical music hosts Victor Hathaway, Virgil Bissett, Helen York and Dave Bunker left the station. Bissett retired, Bunker moved to southern Maine after his wife gained employment there. Despite Bunker's willingness to continue his popular morning music show from the Portland studios of MPBN, he was let go and Leitha Christie hired in his place. York resigned in protest.

The live Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts on Saturday afternoons, which had been a mainstay of classical music broadcasting for more than twenty years, was discontinued. Despite Maine Public Broadcasting's claims that the opera was being dropped due to lack of popularity among listeners, a citizens' protest forced the state network to reinstate the Saturday afternoon opera after a few months.

In May 2005, Maine Public Broadcasting joined a few other PBS stations in showing the controversial "Sugartime!" episode of Postcards from Buster. The program is about a cartoon rabbit named Buster Baxter, who travels the country with his father and interacts with children from different cultures and in different family structures. PBS headquarters had pulled the episode from its national broadcast schedule after receiving a critical letter from newly-installed Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who was upset that Buster was visiting a Vermont family headed by two women. WGBH, the Boston-based PBS affiliate and original producer of the program, subsequently made the episode available to stations that still wished to air it on an individual basis.

Maine humorist Robert Skoglund, a.k.a. The Humble Farmer, host of a weekly jazz and humor program of the same name on MPBN since 1978, aired comments in 2003 pointed at the Republican administration under President George W. Bush. Without citing Bush by name, Skogland compared Bush to Adolf Hitler (and, in a later program, Mussolini). As a result, he was verbally admonished for violating the station's political neutrality guidelines which Skoglund signed and pledged to observe in 1992. Later, in violation of those 1992 guidelines, Skoglund submitted a pre-recorded program for broadcast on November 3, 2007, in which he read a letter on-air that advocated a "no" vote on a the controversial Taxpayer Bill of Rights referendum question due before Maine voters four days later. MPBN reacted to the latter by not airing the program, claiming that it also violated the station's political neutrality guidelines. Skoglund protested by going silent - limiting his vocal utterances during the program to one or two identifications of songs or musicians. After two weeks of Skoglund's silence, MPBN VP for Programming, Charles Beck, sent Skoglund a letter telling him that politicizing a program MPBN kept on the air for its jazz and humor content would lead to the show's cancellation if such attempts continued. MPBN then crafted written guidelines for every member of the on-air staff, asking each to indicate with a signature his or her acceptance of MPBN directives with regard to keeping politically charged content out of local entertainment programming and not using the public's airwaves to further their own personal political agendas. Skoglund, who had signed the 1992 guidelines, refused to sign the updated and tightened guidelines. He is quoted on a pro-Skoglund web site as having no recollection of the 1992 guidelines and attributes his removal from the air as being related to "get out the vote" calls he made on behalf of Democrats, which MPBN did not and does not object to.[4]

Transmitter shutdowns

In December 2008, due to the economic crisis and lack of governmental funding, MPBN announced plans on temporarily closing down WMED-TV and -FM in Calais, and WMEF FM in Fort Kent, for at least six months, beginning January 2009.[5][6] In addition, MPBN's radio and television stations would leave the air for five hours each night, as an energy saving measure.[7] However, many viewers and listeners complained to MPBN for their actions. Another concern is for MPBN's role as the state's primary carrier for the Emergency Alert System, which will be hampered during the times it is not on the air, as well as in areas where aerial service has been discontinued.[7]

In part of the response from viewers and listeners in the affected regions, MPBN delayed their closures until February 28, 2009, at earliest.[8] On February 12, 2009, MPBN officially rescinded plans to close down the transmitters, after responses from its viewers and listeners, as well as stakeholders, legislators, and Governor Baldacci.[9]

Attempt to eliminate state funding

In 2012, Governor Paul LePage proposed eliminating all state funding for MPBN from the budget, referring to such aid as "corporate welfare". [10] The Republican-controlled Legislature rejected this proposal and instead passed a budget directing MPBN funding be changed to a fee-for-service model instead of a general appropriation over the next five years. [11]

Television stations

MPBN operates 5 full-power television stations:

StationCity of license
(other cities served)
Channels
(Digital)
First air dateCall letters’
meaning
ERP
(Digital)
HAAT
(Digital)
Facility IDTransmitter Coordinates
WCBBAugusta
(Lewiston, Portland)
10 (VHF)November 13, 1961Colby
Bates
Bowdoin (original owners)
29.7 kW304 m3965944°9′15″N 70°0′34.7″W / 44.15417°N 70.009639°W / 44.15417; -70.009639 (WCBB)
WMEB-TV (flagship)Orono
(Bangor)
9 (VHF)September 23, 1963Maine
Educational
Broadcasting
15 kW375 m3964844°42′11.6″N 69°4′45.1″W / 44.703222°N 69.079194°W / 44.703222; -69.079194 (WMEB-TV)
WMEM-TVPresque Isle10 (VHF)February 17, 1964Maine
Educational
M
14.5 kW353 m3966246°33′2″N 67°48′32″W / 46.55056°N 67.80889°W / 46.55056; -67.80889 (WMEM-TV)
WMED-TVCalais10 (VHF)September 15, 1965Maine
Educational
D
3.5 kW134 m3964945°1′44.4″N 67°19′23.8″W / 45.029°N 67.323278°W / 45.029; -67.323278 (WMED-TV)
WMEA-TV1Biddeford (Portland)45 (UHF)March 15, 1975Maine
Educational
A
50 kW231 m3965643°25′0.3″N 70°48′15.2″W / 43.41675°N 70.804222°W / 43.41675; -70.804222 (WMEA-TV)

Notes:

MPBN also operates 4 translator stations:

StationAnalog ChannelCity
W04BH4Allagash
W04BS-D4Bethel
W03AM-D3Harrison
W05DD-D5St. Francis

Digital television

MPBN's digital channels are multiplexed:

Digital channels

ChannelProgramming
XX.1Main MPBN programming / PBS
XX.2SD simulcast of XX.1
XX.3MPBN World

On October 27, 2010 MPBN added PBS World programming to its .3 subchannel, but had been offering it for several years on Time Warner Cable, which is available to a large number of subscribers throughout Maine. Also available on the digital cable tier are Create and a three hour delayed feed of the main MPBN signal in standard definition.

Radio stations

MPBN operates 7 radio transmitters:

StationFrequencyClassCityFounded[14]Facility ID
WMEA90.1 FMCPortlandApril 197439655
WMEP90.5 FMBCamdenFebruary 4, 2002[15]92566
WMEW91.3 FMAWatervilleAugust 30, 198439645
WMEH90.9 FMBBangor197039650
WMED89.7 FMC2CalaisJune 22, 198439646
WMEM106.1 FMCPresque Isle197839661
WMEF106.5 FMC3Fort KentSeptember 15, 199439653

References

  1. ^ Briefs on WCBB-MPBN merger from Current
  2. ^ Looking back. (Lewiston) Sun-Journal, 2006-09-13
  3. ^ 1963 in History
  4. ^ Post to the Host from Prairie Home Companion and American Public Media
  5. ^ Routhier, Ray (December 18, 2008). "MPBN to reach fewer Mainers". Portland Press Herald. http://news.mainetoday.com/updates/037303.html. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  6. ^ "MPBN Announces Layoffs and Transmitter Shutdowns". Maine Public Broadcasting Network. December 18, 2008. http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineHeadlineNews/tabid/968/ctl/ViewItem/mid/2905/ItemId/8631/Default.aspx. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b MPBN: "Listeners React To MPBN Cutbacks", 12/19/2008.
  8. ^ MPBN press release, "MPBN to Delay Planned Transmitters Closures in Fort Kent, Calais", 1/6/2009.
  9. ^ MPBN press release: "MPBN Works to Avert Transmitter Shutdowns", 2/12/2009.
  10. ^ Bangor Daily News story, "MPBN to fight LePage proposal to eliminate its state funding", 3/19/2012
  11. ^ Bangor Daily News story, "Committee approves supplemental budget after stripping many items proposed by LePage", 4/10/2012
  12. ^ Maine Today/Portland Press Herald: "MPBN going all digital early", 12/10/2008
  13. ^ Growing pains: MPBN takes hit for digital TV switch, Eric Russell, Bangor Daily News, January 19, 2009
  14. ^ Exact dates reflect the date on which the FCC issued a license for the station. The station will normally have been operating under program test authority for some months prior.
  15. ^ Federal Communications Commission (2002-02-04). "FM Broadcast Station License". http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/view_auth.pl?Application_id=586807&File_number=BLED-20011113ABV&Callsign=WMEP&Facility=92566. Retrieved 2008-02-16.  File number BLED-20011113ABV.

External links