FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a post shared on their official website, that the government owned WTJX-TV, which is also a local PBS affiliate, should be available to satellite TV customers in the US Virgin Islands. She shared the post after her recent visit to the territory, together with Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett.
“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,” writes Clyburn.
She said that the issue was brought to attention by Plaskett on her visit to the territory. Sources say that the issues affecting the residents of the island were discussed during the visit.
“The local PBS affiliate, WTJX-TV which has been broadcasting for more than 40 years is not available to satellite customers, including a growing number of residents who have chosen DISH as their provider. In its place, DISH carries WMTJ, a Puerto Rico based 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 said.
The FCC Commissioner also added that she met with Tanya-Marie Singh, who is the CEO of the Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting System, to discuss the matters. Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting System includes WTJX-FM 93.1 and WTJX-TV, and highlights local shows that are of high quality like Ritmo Del Doce, Meet the Candidates (during election cycles), and Face to Face with Addie Ottley.
Clyburn said that WTJX-TV is not being transmitted by some of the satellite TV service providers at present, as the territory is not in a Nielsen Designated Market Area. “This means, in sum, that WTJX cannot elect must-carry or retransmission consent. And while I cannot compel carriage of WTJX as an FCC Commissioner, I do believe it is the right thing to do” she said.
“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,” Clyburn concluded.